The induction of immediate early genes in cells of the immune system is critical to determining the ultimate outcome of exposure to antigen. The importance of many of these genes relates to the role their transcription factor products play in dictating patterns of expression of downstream, function-related genes. Evidence from several systems indicates that the immediate early gene, egr-1 may be of particular importance in the immune system. Recently, the egr-1 promoter has been shown to be highly responsive to the diverse biochemical signals generated by antigen and cytokines in cells of the immune system. Furthermore, an important role for egr-1 in determining the differentiation pathway of myeloid cell precursors has been recently elaborated. Finally, potential targets of regulation by the zinc-finger transcription factor encoded by egr-1 include the interleukin-2, CD44, ICAM-1, and tumor necrosis factor genes. The role of egr-1 in regulation of the immune response will be discussed in the context of these recent studies.