Interleukin-10 (IL-10), first recognized for its ability to inhibit activation and effector function of T cells, monocytes, and macrophages, is a multifunctional cytokine with diverse effects on most hemopoietic cell types. The principal routine function of IL-10 appears to be to limit and ultimately terminate inflammatory responses. In addition to these activities, IL-10 regulates growth and/or differentiation of B cells, NK cells, cytotoxic and helper T cells, mast cells, granulocytes, dendritic cells, keratinocytes, and endothelial cells. IL-10 plays a key role in differentiation and function of a newly appreciated type of T cell, the T regulatory cell, which may figure prominently in control of immune responses and tolerance in vivo. Uniquely among hemopoietic cytokines, IL-10 has closely related homologs in several virus genomes, which testify to its crucial role in regulating immune and inflammatory responses. This review highlights findings that have advanced our understanding of IL-10 and its receptor, as well as its in vivo function in health and disease.