Hematogenous leukocytes infiltrate the CNS after inflammatory stimuli, including infection, mechanical trauma and excitotoxic neuronal necrosis. However,the role of leukocytic inflammation in promoting or hindering tissue repair is poorly understood. Identification of signals that lead to leukocyte recruitment and activation is essential for the designing of interventions that modulate inflammation, thus improving neurological outcome. Chemokines are small pleiotropic chemoattractant cytokines whose target specificity suggests an important role in determining the cellular composition of inflammatory infiltrates. Chemokine expression profiles in the CNS during autoimmune and post-traumatic inflammation correlate well with the composition of leukocyte infiltrates, and expression studies in systems such as transgenic mice, suggest that chemokines have potent functional attributes in CNS physiology. We propose that selective chemokine expression by CNS cells is crucial for post-traumatic leukocyte accumulation.