Innate immune responses combat infectious microorganisms by inducing inflammatory responses, antimicrobial pathways and adaptive immunity. Multiple genes within each of these functional categories are coordinately and temporally regulated in response to distinct external stimuli. The substantial potential of these responses to drive pathological inflammation and tissue damage highlights the need for rigorous control of these responses. Although transcriptional control of inflammatory gene expression has been studied extensively, the importance of post-transcriptional regulation of these processes is less well defined. In this Review, we discuss the regulatory mechanisms that occur at the level of mRNA splicing, mRNA polyadenylation, mRNA stability and protein translation, and that have instrumental roles in controlling both the magnitude and duration of the inflammatory response.