A key facet of the innate immune response lays in its ability to recognize and respond to invading microorganisms and cellular disturbances. Through the use of germ-line encoded PRRs, the innate immune system is capable of detecting invariant pathogen motifs termed pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) that are distinct from host encoded proteins or products released from dying cells, which are known as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). PAMPs and DAMPs include both protein and nucleic acids for the detection and response to pathogens and metabolic " danger" signals. This is by far one of the most active areas of research as recent studies have shown retinoic acid inducible gene 1 (RIG1)-like receptors (RLRs), the nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat containing proteins (NLRs) and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the recently described AIM-like receptors (ALRs) are responsible for initiating interferon production or the assembly and activation of the inflammasome, ultimately resulting in the release of bioactive IL-1 family members. Overall, the vertebrate PRR recognition machinery consists of seven domains (e.g., Death, NACHT, CARD, TIR, LRR, PYD, helicase), most of which can be traced to the very origins of the deuterostomes. This review is intended to provide an overview of the basic components that are used by vertebrates to detect and respond to pathogens, with an emphasis on these receptors in fish as well as a brief note on their likely origins. © 2011.