Inflammation is a variable feature of osteoarthritis (OA), associated with joint symptoms and progression of disease. Signs of inflammation can be observed in joint fluids and tissues from patients with joint injuries at risk for development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Furthermore, inflammatory mechanisms are hypothesized to contribute to the risk of OA development and progression after injury. Animal models of PTOA have been instrumental in understanding factors and mechanisms involved in chronic progressive cartilage degradation observed after a predisposing injury. Specific aspects of inflammation observed in humans, including cytokine and chemokine production, synovial reaction, cellular infiltration and inflammatory pathway activation, are also observed in models of PTOA. Many of these models are now being utilized to understand the impact of post-injury inflammatory response on PTOA development and progression, including risk of progressive cartilage degeneration and development of chronic symptoms post-injury. As evidenced from these models, a vigorous inflammatory response occurs very early after joint injury but is then sustained at a lower level at the later phases. This early inflammatory response contributes to the development of PTOA features including cartilage erosion and is potentially modifiable, but specific mediators may also play a role in tissue repair. Although the optimal approach and timing of anti-inflammatory interventions after joint injury are yet to be determined, this body of work should provide hope for the future of disease modification tin PTOA.