T helper cells that produce interleukin 17 (IL-17) are associated with inflammation and the control of certain bacteria. We report here the essential involvement of the adaptor protein Act1 in IL-17 receptor (IL-17R) signaling and IL-17-dependent immune responses. After stimulation with IL-17, recruitment of Act1 to IL-17R required the IL-17R conserved cytoplasmic 'SEFIR' domain, followed by recruitment of the kinase TAK1 and E3 ubiquitin ligase TRAF6, which mediate 'downstream' activation of transcription factor NF-κB. IL-17-induced expression of inflammation-related genes was abolished in Act1-deficient primary astroglial and gut epithelial cells. This reduction was associated with much less inflammatory disease in vivo in both autoimmune encephalomyelitis and dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis. Our data show that Act1 is essential in IL-17-dependent signaling in autoimmune and inflammatory disease.