Atherosclerosis, a dominant and growing cause of death and disability worldwide, involves inflammation from its inception to the emergence of complications. Targeting inflammatory pathways could therefore provide a promising new avenue to prevent and treat atherosclerosis. Indeed, clinical studies have now demonstrated unequivocally that modulation of inflammation can forestall the clinical complications of atherosclerosis. This progress pinpoints the need for preclinical investigations to refine strategies for combatting inflammation in the human disease. In this Review, we consider a gamut of attractive possibilities for modifying inflammation in atherosclerosis, including targeting pivotal inflammatory pathways such as the inflammasomes, inhibiting cytokines, manipulating adaptive immunity and promoting pro-resolution mechanisms. Along with lifestyle measures, pharmacological interventions to mute inflammation could complement traditional targets, such as lipids and hypertension, to make new inroads into the management of atherosclerotic risk.