Interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) has emerged as an important regulator of growth and differentiation, affecting cellular communication and signal transduction pathways as well as immunological control. The efficacy of IFN alpha has been demonstrated in many different diseases of viral, malignant, angiogenic, allergic, inflammatory, and fibrotic origin. Cytokines are pleiotropic and redundant molecules showing a wide variety of biologic functions on various tissues and cells, and several different cytokines exert similar and overlapping functions on certain cells. Data gained in the last years support this view also for IFN alpha. Initially thought to have mainly immunomodulating and proinflammatory effects, recent data suggest that IFN alpha has several anti-inflammatory properties. These newly identified anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive functions may help to explain some of the IFN mechanisms.