During the past decade, mechanisms involved in the immune surveillance of the central nervous system (CNS) have moved to the forefront of neuropathological research mainly because of the recognition that most neurological disorders involve activation and, possibly, dysregulation of microglia, the intrinsic macrophages of the CNS. Increasing evidence indicates that, in addition to their well-established phagocytic function, microglia may also participate in the regulation of non specific inflammation as well as adaptive immune responses. This article focuses on the signals regulating microglia innate immune functions, the role of microglia in antigen presentation, and their possible involvement in the development of CNS immunopathology. GLIA 36:165–179, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.