Vitamin A and its derivatives (retinoids) act as potent regulators in many aspects of mammalian reproduction, development, repair, and maintenance of differentiated tissue functioning. Unlike other vitamins, Vitamin A and retinoids, which have hormonal actions, present significant toxicity, which plays roles in clinically relevant situations, such as hypervitaminosis A and retinoic acid ("differentiation") syndrome. Although clinical presentation is conspicuous in states of insufficient or excessive Vitamin A and retinoid concentration, equally relevant effects on host resistance to specific infectious agents, and in the general maintenance of immune homeostasis, may go unnoticed, because their expression requires either pathogen exposure or the presence of inflammatory co-morbidities. There is a vast literature on the roles played by retinoids in the maintenance of a tolerogenic, noninflammatory environment in the gut mucosa, which is taken by many as representative of a general role played by retinoids as anti-inflammatory hormones in other sites. However, in the gut mucosa itself, as well as in the bone marrow and inflammatory sites, context determines whether one observes an anti-inflammatory or proinflammatory action of retinoids. Both interactions between specialized cell populations, and interactions between retinoids and other classes of mediators/regulators, such as cytokines and glucocorticoid hormones, must be considered as important factors contributing to this overall context. We review evidence from recent studies on mucosal immunity, granulocyte biology and respiratory allergy models, which highlight the relevance of these variables as well as their possible contributions to the observed outcomes.