Interleukin 6 (IL-6) performs a prominent role during disease and has been described as both a pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine. A key feature in the regulation of IL-6 responses has been the identification of a soluble interleukin 6 receptor (sIL-6R), which forms a ligand-receptor complex with IL-6 that is capable of stimulating a variety of cellular responses including proliferation, differentiation and activation of inflammatory processes. Elevated sIL-6R levels have been documented in numerous clinical conditions indicating that its production is coordinated as part of a disease response. Thus, sIL-6R has the potential to regulate both local and systemic IL-6-mediated events. This review will outline the central role of sIL-6R in the coordination of IL-6 responses. Details relating to the mechanisms of sIL-6R production will be provided, while the potential significance of sIL-6R during the development of clinical conditions will be emphasized. We want to convey, therefore, that when thinking about the inflammatory capability of IL-6, it is essential to consider not only the action of IL-6 itself, but also the effect sIL-6R may have on cellular processes.