Cytokines provide cells with the ability to communicate with one another and orchestrate complex multicellular behaviour. There is an emerging understanding of the role that cytokines play in normal homeostatic tissue function and how dysregulation of these cytokine networks is associated with pathological conditions. The central nervous system (CNS), where few blood-borne immune cells circulate, seems to be particularly vulnerable to dysregulated cytokine networks. In degenerative diseases, such as proteopathies, CNS-resident cells are the predominant producers of pro-inflammatory cytokines. By contrast, in classical neuroinflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and encephalitides, pro-inflammatory cytokines are mainly produced by tissue-invading leukocytes. Whereas the effect of dysregulated cytokine networks in proteopathies is controversial, cytokines delivered to the CNS by invading immune cells are in general detrimental to the tissue. Here, we summarize recent observations on the impact of dysregulated cytokine networks in neuroinflammation.