This review is a short synopsis of the roles cytokines play during fetal life, initiation of labor, and in neonatal immunity and diseases. Hematopoietic growth factors regulate the maturation of progenitors in fetal and neonatal hematopoietic organs. Cytokines act as extra-hematopoietic growth factors, modulators of feto-maternal tolerance and are involved in selective apoptosis during tissue remodeling. Inter-regulation of cytokine networks is critical for normal function and maturation of neonatal host defenses. Antigen specific immunity develops later in life and neonates initially depend on natural (innate) immunity. Cytokines regulate innate immunity and connect it with antigen specific adaptive immunity. Some cytokines have already found a place in routine NICU therapy (EPO and G-CSF), while diagnostic and therapeutic uses of others are under investigation (TPO, TNF-alpha, etc.).