We report a man with lifelong urticaria, night sweats, arthralgia and lethargy. He had high levels of inflammatory markers and serum amyloid A, but no identifiable mutation in exon 3 of the NLRP3 (NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain-1 containing 3) gene, and no relevant family history. We found marked production of functional interleukin (IL)-1 by the patient's monocytes at baseline and after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide. The patient made an immediate response to treatment with an IL-1β receptor antagonist. We propose that this patient has Muckle–Wells syndrome without deafness, occurring de novo. Functional screening for IL-1 production could aid diagnosis in future similar cases.