Inflammatory diseases of the aorta include routine atherosclerosis, aortitis, periaortitis, and atherosclerosis with excessive inflammatory responses, such as inflammatory atherosclerotic aneurysms. The nomenclature and histologic features of these disorders are reviewed and discussed. In addition, diagnostic criteria are provided to distinguish between these disorders in surgical pathology specimens. An initial classification scheme is provided for aortitis and periaortitis based on the pattern of the inflammatory infiltrate: granulomatous/giant cell pattern, lymphoplasmacytic pattern, mixed inflammatory pattern, and the suppurative pattern. These inflammatory patterns are discussed in relation to specific systemic diseases including giant cell arteritis, Takayasu arteritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's), rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, ankylosing spondylitis, Cogan syndrome, Behçet's disease, relapsing polychondritis, syphilitic aortitis, and bacterial and fungal infections.