Inflammation serves as the first line of defense in response to tissue injury, guiding the immune system to ensure preservation of the host. The inflammatory response can be divided into a quick initial phase mediated mainly by innate immune cells including neutrophils and macrophages, followed by a late phase that is dominated by lymphocytes. Early in the new millennium, a key component of the inflammatory reaction was discovered with the identification of a number of cytosolic sensor proteins (Nod-like receptors) that assembled into a common structure, the 'inflammasome'. This structure includes an enzyme, caspase-1, which upon activation cleaves pro-forms of cytokines leading to subsequent release of active IL-1 and IL-18. This review focuses on the role of IL-18 in inflammatory responses with emphasis on autoimmune diseases.