Invertebrates do not display the level of sophistication in immune reactivity characteristic of mammals and other ‘higher’ vertebrates. Their great number and diversity of forms, however, reflect their evolutionary success and hence they must have effective mechanisms of defence to deal with parasites and pathogens and altered self tissues. Inflammation appears to be an important first line defence in all invertebrates and vertebrates. This brief review deals with the inflammatory responses of invertebrates and fish concentrating on the cell types involved and the mediators of inflammation, in particular, eicosanoids, cytokines and adhesion molecules.