IL-6 R alpha is a transmembrane subunit of the receptor for Interleukin-6. It associates with gp130 which is a shared component of the receptors for CLC, CNTF, CT-1, IL-11, IL-27, LIF, and OSM. Soluble forms of IL-6 R alpha are generated by both alternative splicing and proteolytic cleavage. In a mechanism known as trans-signaling, complexes of soluble IL-6 and IL-6 R alpha elicit responses from gp130-expressing cells that lack cell surface IL-6 R alpha. IL-6 plays important roles in the acute phase reaction, inflammation, hematopoiesis, bone metabolism, and cancer progression. IL-6, along with TNF-alpha and IL-1, drives the acute inflammatory response and the transition from acute inflammation to either acquired immunity or chronic inflammatory disease. When dysregulated, it contributes to chronic inflammation in obesity, insulin resistance, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, sepsis, and atherosclerosis.