Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has unclear pathogenesis and it is related to the increasing risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Recent studies have uncovered the molecular mechanism of intracellular signaling pathways of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-6. The major transcription factors including STAB have been shown to play a major role in transmitting inflammatory cytokine signals to the nucleus. The suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) 3 protein is the key physiological regulators of cytokine-mediated STAT3 signaling. As such it influences the development of inflammatory and malignant disorders like this associated with IBD. Here we review the complex function of SOCS3 in innate and adaptive immunity, different cell types (macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic cells, B cells, T cells and intestinal epithelial cells) and the role of SOCS3 on the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and IBD-related cancer. Finally, we explore how this knowledge may open novel avenues for the rational treatment of IBD and IBD-related cancer. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.