Sustained access to nutrients is a fundamental biological need, especially for proliferating cells, and controlling nutrient supply is an ancient strategy to regulate cellular responses to stimuli. By catabolizing the essential amino acid TRP, cells expressing the enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) can mediate potent local effects on innate and adaptive immune responses to inflammatory insults. Here, we discuss recent progress in elucidating how IDO activity promotes local metabolic changes that impact cellular and systemic responses to inflammatory and immunological signals. These recent developments identify potential new targets for therapy in a range of clinical settings, including cancer, chronic infections, autoimmune and allergic syndromes, and transplantation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.