Clinical outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI) is variable and cannot easily be predicted. There is increasing evidence to suggest that there may be genetic influences on outcome. Cytokines play an important role in mediating the inflammatory response provoked within the central nervous system after TBI. This study was designed to identify associations between cytokine gene polymorphisms and clinical outcome 6 months after head injury. A prospectively identified cohort of patients (n=1096, age range 0-93 years, mean age 37) was used. Clinical outcome at 6 months was assessed using the Glasgow Outcome Scale. In an initial screen of 11 cytokine gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with disease susceptibility or outcome (TNFA -238 and -308, IL6 -174, -572 and -597, IL1A -889, IL1B -31, -511 and +3953, and TGFB -509 and -800), TNFA -308 was identified as having a likely association. The TNFA -308 SNP was further evaluated, and a significant association was identified, with 39% of allele 2 carriers having an unfavorable outcome compared with 31% of non-carriers (adjusted odds ratio 1.67, confidence interval 1.19-2.35, p=0.003). These findings are consistent with experimental and clinical data suggesting that neuroinflammation has an impact on clinical outcome after TBI and that tumor necrosis factor alpha plays an important role in this process.