A properly mounted immune response is indispensable for recognizing and eliminating danger arising from foreign invaders and tissue trauma. However, the 'inflammatory fire' kindled by the host response must be tightly controlled to prevent it from spreading and causing irreparable damage. Accordingly, acute inflammation is self-limiting and is normally attenuated after elimination of noxious stimuli, restoration of homeostasis and initiation of tissue repair. However, unresolved inflammation may lead to the development of chronic autoimmune and degenerative diseases and cancer. Here, we discuss the key molecular mechanisms that contribute to the self-limiting nature of inflammatory signaling, with emphasis on the negative regulation of the NF-κB pathway and the NLRP3 inflammasome. Understanding these negative regulatory mechanisms should facilitate the development of much-needed therapeutic strategies for treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune pathologies.