Interleukin 6 (IL-6) has a broad effect on cells of the immune system and those not of the immune system and often displays hormone-like characteristics that affect homeostatic processes. IL-6 has context-dependent pro- and anti-inflammatory properties and is now regarded as a prominent target for clinical intervention. However, the signaling cassette that controls the activity of IL-6 is complicated, and distinct intervention strategies can inhibit this pathway. Clinical experience with antagonists of IL-6 has raised new questions about how and when to block this cytokine to improve disease outcome and patient wellbeing. Here we discuss the effect of IL-6 on innate and adaptive immunity and the possible advantages of various antagonists of IL-6 and consider how the immunobiology of IL-6 may inform clinical decisions.