The migration of inflammatory cells through the blood-brain barrier in health and disease involves complex interactions between hematogenous cells, endothelial cells, the basement membrane and the perivascular glia limitans. Recent evidence is presented, suggesting that part of these interactions involve antigen independent mechanisms, mediated by cellular adhesion molecules. The accessibility of endothelial adhesion molecules in the intact blood-brain barrier is lower compared to vessels in other organs. This may account for the low traffic of hematogenous cells through the normal blood-brain barrier. However, in inflammatory conditions the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules is upregulated, which may lead to recruitment of inflammatory cells into the lesions. Antigen specific activation of T-ceiis at the blood-brain barrier apparently takes place mainly at perivascular monocytes and microglia cells. In severe inflammatory lesions, however, astrocytes may be additionally involved in antigen presentation.