1. In most instances, data obtained using knockout mice to dissect the role of cytokines in fever are similar to data obtained by other, more traditional experimental techniques. 2. Interleukin (IL)-1beta appears to be critically involved in fever caused by some routes of infection/inflammation (e.g. localized inflammation with turpentine). This cytokine has only a small role in fevers caused by i.p. injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). These IL-1beta-induced fevers in knockout mice appear to be via the induction of IL-6, similar to LPS-induced fevers in rats. Interleukin-6 also appears to be critically involved in turpentine-induced fever. 3. The precise role of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) in fever is controversial. Data obtained from knockout mice lacking both TNF receptors do not support a pyrogenic role for TNF in fever either to i.p. injection of LPS, s.c. injection of turpentine or following caecal ligation and puncture. 4. The roles of these cytokines in fevers induced by injection of LPS, IL-1beta, turpentine and caecal ligation and puncture are summarized. The data show the complexity of the febrile response. Depending on the types of inflammatory/infectious stimuli, different cytokines play important roles. Because other cytokines are thought to be involved in fever (e.g. macrophage inflammatory protein, interferons), considerable work is still needed to dissect the precise roles of cytokines in fever.