Chemokines represent key factors in the outburst of the immune response, by activating and directing the leukocyte traffic, both in lymphopoiesis and in immune surveillance. Neurobiologists took little interest in chemokines for many years, until their link to acquired immune deficiency syndrome-associated dementia became established, and thus their importance in this field has been neglected. Nevertheless, the body of data on their expression and role in the CNS has grown in the past few years, along with a new vision of brain as an immunologically competent and active organ. A large number of chemokines and chemokine receptors are expressed in neurons, astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes, either constitutively or induced by inflammatory mediators. They are involved in many neuropathological processes in which an inflammatory state persists, as well as in brain tumor progression and metastasis. Moreover, there is evidence for a crucial role of CNS chemokines under physiological conditions, similar to well known functions in the immune system, such as proliferation and developmental patterning, but also peculiar to the CNS, such as regulation of neural transmission, plasticity and survival.