Interleukin-1 (IL-1) has been implicated in neuroimmune responses and has pleiotropic actions in the brain. Compelling evidence has shown that IL-1 is a major mediator of inflammation and the progression of cell death in response to brain injury and cerebral ischemia. Its expression is strongly increased in these pathological conditions, and central administration of exogenous IL-1 significantly exacerbates ischemic brain damage. In contrast, inhibiting IL-1 actions (by intracerebroventricular [icv] injection of IL-1ra, neutralizing antibody to IL-1 or caspase-1 inhibitor) significantly reduces ischemic brain damage. IL-1 acts by binding to the IL-1 type-I receptor (IL-1RI), which is to date, the only known functional receptor for IL-1. However, our recent investigations suggest that IL-1 can act independently of IL-1RI, raising the possibility that additional, as yet undiscovered, receptor(s) for IL-1 exist in the brain. The recent characterization of putative, new IL-1 ligands and new IL-1 receptor-related molecules leads to the hypothesis that there might be alternative IL-1 signaling pathway(s) in the central nervous system (CNS).