Background: Cytokines and cytokine receptors are involved in the systemic and local inflammatory response in patients with urinary tract infections. Methods: We examined urine and serum concentrations of soluble IL-6 receptor (sIL-6R), IL-10 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in 29 women with acute pyelonephritis caused by Escherichia coli 2 weeks after the infection, during the subsequent episode of cystitis or asymptomatic bacteriuria and also later when the same patients were free from bacteriuria. Concentrations of sIL-6R, IL-10 and G-CSF were related to the expression of five virulence markers of E. coli and to glomerular filtration rate (GFR) after pyelonephritis. Results: On admission because of acute pyelonephritis the serum concentration of sIL-6R was similar to that of 12 healthy controls. Two weeks after the infection when all patients had received antibiotic treatment, the serum concentration of sIL-6R was significantly higher compared to that on admission (p < 0.001) and also higher compared to healthy controls (p = 0.001). Patients with increased concentrations of sIL-6R in serum 2 weeks after infection had significantly lower GFR at follow-up (p < 0.05). Patients with acute pyelonephritis had higher concentrations of G-CSF and IL-10 in serum compared to healthy subjects (p < 0.001 and p = 0.06, respectively). G-CSF in serum was higher in patients infected by E. coli producing cytotoxic necrotizing factor (p < 0.05). Patients infected by strains producing hemolysin had lower concentrations of sIL-6R (p < 0.001). Patients with detectable levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in serum had significantly higher concentrations of IL-6 and the soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors I and II in serum as compared to patients in whom IL-10 was not detectable (p < 0.001, p = 0.001 and p < 0.05, respectively. Conclusion: These investigations, together with our previous findings summarized in this paper, contribute to an increased understanding of the local and systemic inflammatory response arising in response to acute pyelonephritis.