Despite considerable progress in understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of Gram-negative sepsis, the outcome of septic patients has not significantly improved. There are ample data that support a role for inflammatory mediators in sepsis that act in synergy with infectious agents to initiate and propagate the disease process. One such mediator is the glycerophospholipid platelet-activating factor (PAF). The objective of the present review is to summarize experimental and clinical evidence implicating PAF as a mediator in the pathomechanism of sepsis. This review is timely because many potent and selective PAF antagonists have matured for clinical development and a careful analysis of the data that support or refute the merit of clinical trials with such compounds may be important for both academic and pharmaceutical applications.