The medical records of 220 dogs with inflammatory/infectious diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) were retrospectively examined. The aims of the study were to determine if clinical and clinicopathologic data (not including biopsy or necropsy examination) could distinguish inflammatory CNS diseases from diseases of other types, and to search for criteria allowing differentiation of specific inflammatory diseases. The signalment, historical findings, extraneural and neurological signs, and the lesion site contributed marginally to a specific diagnosis. Multifocal signs were only noticed in one third of the dogs with inflammatory/infectious diseases. Particular neurological abnormalities were more frequent in certain diseases than in others (eg, myoclonus was frequent in dogs with distemper, but it was also found in those with other meningoencephalomyelitides). Hematologic findings contributed to the diagnosis in certain conditions (eg, canine distemper encephalitis, protozoal encephalomyelitis, steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis). Cerebrospinal fluid examinations, including immunoglobulin G index and cytology were useful to separate meningoencephalomyelitides from the other CNS diseases and to distinguish certain conditions from others. In most cases a specific diagnosis depended on a combination of clinical signs and ancillary diagnostic aids. Still, a specific diagnosis remained very difficult, if not impossible, in at least one third of the dogs.