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Interleukin (IL)–17 (also known as IL-17A) plays an important role in host defense and inflammatory disorders, in part by linking the activation of a subset of T lymphocytes to the mobilization of neutrophils and macrophages. IL-17 exerts its effects both directly and indirectly; the latter by stimulating the production of various chemokines, IL-6, and growth factors from resident cells in the affected tissue. As a result, IL-17 coordinates the innate immune response to extracellular bacteria, which is interesting because IL-17 is produced by several types of T cells that are traditionally regarded as key players in adaptive immunity. Studies have uncovered the function and relevance of a unique subset of CD4+ T helper (Th) cells that produce IL-17 (Th17 cells), but our understanding of the function of IL-17 receptors (IL-17Rs) and their downstream signaling pathways remains poor. This Review discusses studies that suggest that the cytoplasmic adaptor protein Act1 [nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activator 1] is essential for linking stimulation of IL-17Rs to downstream signaling pathways, and, therefore, that Act1 might play a role in local inflammatory responses. Act1 mediates activation of NF-κB and the subsequent production of IL-6 and chemokines that are chemotactic for neutrophils and macrophages. These findings have increased our understanding of host defense against bacteria and indicated a role for Act1 in mediating in chronic inflammatory disease. Future studies on Act1 and IL-17 signaling should contribute to the identification and improved understanding of the mechanisms behind aberrant innate immune responses in chronic inflammatory disease.