Fighting pathogens and maintaining tissue homeostasis are prerequisites for survival. Both of these functions are upheld by the immune system, though the latter is often overlooked in the context of the CNS. The mere presence of immune cells in the CNS was long considered a hallmark of pathology, but this view has been recently challenged by studies demonstrating that immunological signaling can confer pivotal neuroprotective effects on the injured CNS. In this review, we describe the temporal sequence of immunological events that follow CNS injury. Beginning with immediate changes at the injury site, including death of neural cells and release of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), and progressing through innate and adaptive immune responses, we describe the cascade of inflammatory mediators and the implications of their post-injury effects. We conclude by proposing a revised interpretation of immune privilege in the brain, which takes beneficial neuro-immune communications into account.