The inflammatory process, orchestrated against a variety of injurious stimuli, is composed of three inter-related phases; initiation, propagation and resolution. Understanding the interplay between these three phases and harnessing the beneficial properties of inflammation whilst preventing its damaging effects, will undoubtedly lead to the advent of much needed therapies, particularly in chronic disease states. The P2X 7 receptor (P2X 7R) is increasingly recognised as an important cell surface regulator of several key inflammatory molecules including IL-1β, IL-18, TNF-α and IL-6. Moreover, as P2X 7R-dependent cytokine production is driven by activating the inflammasome, antagonists of this receptor are likely to have therapeutic potential as novel anti-inflammatory therapies. The function of the P2X 7R in inflammation, immunity and its potential role in disease will be reviewed and discussed.