Drugs to treat inflammation are discussed under the following headings: (1) random discoveries covering copper, salicylates, heterocyclic diones, ACTH, adrenal steroids and disease-modifying agents (DMARDs); these include Au(I)-thiolates, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine, minocycline, cyclosporin, salazopyrine, D-penicillamine and methotrexate; (2) programmed NSAID developments covering salicylates and fenamates, arylalkanoates, diones, non-acidic NSAIDs, clozic, lobenzarit and coxibs; (3) synthetic glucocorticosteroids; and (4) 'Biologicals' for neutralising pro-inflammatory cytokines. Clinical problems are highlighted, particularly unacceptable side-effects affecting the GI tract, skin, liver, etc. that caused many drugs to be withdrawn. Drug combinations may overcome some of these problems. The bibliography has selected reviews and monographs covering 50 years of publications.