Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) may play a central role in the inflammatory response following traumatic brain injury (TBI). We subjected 91 mice to controlled cortical impact (CCI) brain injury or sham injury. Beginning 5 min post-injury, the IL-1β neutralizing antibody IgG2a/k (1.5 μg/mL) or control antibody was infused at a rate of 0.25 μL/h into the contralateral ventricle for up to 14 days using osmotic minipumps. Neutrophil and T-cell infiltration and microglial activation was evaluated at days 1–7 post-injury. Cognition was assessed using Morris water maze, and motor function using rotarod and cylinder tests. Lesion volume and hemispheric tissue loss were evaluated at 18 days post-injury. Using this treatment strategy, cortical and hippocampal tissue levels of IgG2a/k reached 50 ng/mL, sufficient to effectively inhibit IL-1βin vitro. IL-1β neutralization attenuated the CCI-induced cortical and hippocampal microglial activation (P < 0.05 at post-injury days 3 and 7), and cortical infiltration of neutrophils (P < 0.05 at post-injury day 7). There was only a minimal cortical infiltration of activated T-cells, attenuated by IL-1β neutralization (P < 0.05 at post-injury day 7). CCI induced a significant deficit in neurological motor and cognitive function, and caused a loss of hemispheric tissue (P < 0.05). In brain-injured animals, IL-1β neutralizing treatment resulted in reduced lesion volume, hemispheric tissue loss and attenuated cognitive deficits (P < 0.05) without influencing neurological motor function. Our results indicate that IL-1β is a central component in the post-injury inflammatory response that, in view of the observed positive neuroprotective and cognitive effects, may be a suitable pharmacological target for the treatment of TBI.