Granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is generally recognized as an inflammatory cytokine. Its inflammatory activity is primarily due its role as a growth and differentiation factor for granulocyte and macrophage populations. In this capacity, among other clinical applications, it has been used to bolster anti-tumor immune responses. GM-CSF-mediated inflammation has also been implicated in certain types of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Thus, agents that can block GM-CSF or its receptor have been used as anti-inflammatory therapies. However, a review of literature reveals that in many situations GM-CSF can act as an anti-inflammatory/regulatory cytokine. We and others have shown that GM-CSF can modulate dendritic cell differentiation to render them "tolerogenic," which, in turn, can increase regulatory T-cell numbers and function. Therefore, the pro-inflammatory and regulatory effects of GM-CSF appear to depend on the dose and the presence of other relevant cytokines in the context of an immune response. A thorough understanding of the various immunomodulatory effects of GM-CSF will facilitate more appropriate use and thus further enhance its clinical utility.