Numerous studies have attempted to elucidate the cytokine networks involved in chronic periodontitis, often with conflicting results. A variety of techniques were used to study cells in situ, cells extracted from gingival tissues, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, purified cell populations, and T cell lines and clones. Bacterial components, including sonicates, killed cells, outer membrane components, and purified antigens, have all been used to stimulate cells in vitro, making comparisons of cytokine profiles difficult. As it is likely that different cells are present at different disease stages, the inability to determine disease activity clinically is a major limitation of all these studies. In the context of tissue destruction, cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6 and IL-18 are likely to be important, as are their regulating cytokines IL-10 and IL-11. In terms of the nature of the inflammatory infiltrate, two apparently conflicting hypotheses have emerged: one based on direct observations of human lesions, the other based on animal experimentation and the inability to demonstrate IL-4 mRNA in gingival extracts. In the first of these, Th1 responses are responsible for the stable lesion, while in the second Th2 responses are considered protective. Using Porphyromonas gingivalis specific T cell lines we have shown a tendency for IFN-gamma production rather than LL-I or IL-10 when antigen is presented with peripheral blood mononuclear cells which may contain dendritic cells. It is likely that the nature of the antigen-presenting cell is fundamental in determining the nature of the cytokine profile, which may in turn open up possibilities for new therapeutic modalities.