Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is a pleiotropic glycoprotein belonging to the IL-6 family of cytokines. It is involved in growth promotion and cell differentiation of different types of target cells, influence bone metabolism, cachexia, neural development, embryogenesis, and inflammation. LIF has potent proinflammatory properties, being the inducer of the acute phase protein synthesis and affecting cell recruitment into the area of damage or inflammation. LIF is also one of the cytokines that are capable to regulate the differentiation of embryonic stem cells, hematopoietic, and neuronal cells. LIF binds to the specific LIF receptor (LIFR-α) which forms a heterodimer with a specific subunit common to all members of that family of receptors, the GP130 signal-transducing subunit. This leads to the activation of the JAK/STAT and MAPK cascades. Due to its polyfunctional activities, LIF is involved in the pathogenic events and development of many diseases of various origins.