Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is a crucial mediator in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases at the periphery and in the central nervous system (CNS). Produced as an unprocessed and inactive pro-form which accumulates intracellularly, release of the processed cytokine is strongly promoted by ATP acting at the purinergic P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) in cells primed with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 ligand. Microglia are central to the inflammatory process and a major source of IL-1β when activated. Here we show that purified (>99%) microglia cultured from rat cortex, spinal cord and cerebellum respond robustly to ATP-dependent IL-1β release, upon priming with a number of TLR isoform ligands (zymosan and Pam3CSK4 for TLR2, poly(I:C) for TLR3). Cytokine release was prevented by a P2X7R antagonist and inhibitors of stress-activated protein kinases. Enriched astrocytes (≤ 5% microglia) from these CNS regions displayed responses qualitatively similar to microglia but became unresponsive upon eradication of residual microglia with the lysosomotropic agent Leu-Leu-OMe. Activation of multiple TLR isoforms in nervous system pathology, coupled with elevated extracellular ATP levels and subsequent P2X7R activation may represent an important route for microglia-derived IL-1β. This phenomenon may have important consequences for neuroinflammation and its position to the common pathology of CNS diseases.