The important role played by macrolides in the chemotherapy of infectious diseases is well established, but there is still much speculation about their anti-inflammatory potential. A review of in-vitro and ex-vivo studies reported in the literature shows that macrolides have potentially relevant immunomodulatory effects. In-vitro data suggest that erythromycin A derivatives have a direct effect on neutrophil function and the production of cytokines involved in the inflammation cascade. The ex-vivo results indicate that short-term administration of macrolides may enhance the immune response while long-term administration results in immunosuppression. Further research is required to improve our understanding of the therapeutic activity of macrolides.