Abstract: Background: Increasing evidence links systemic inflammation to neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. We previously found that systemic endotoxin, a TLR4 agonist or TNFα, increased blood TNFα that entered the brain activating microglia and persistent neuroinflammation. Further, we found that models of ethanol binge drinking sensitized blood and brain proinflammatory responses. We hypothesized that blood cytokines contribute to the magnitude of neuroinflammation and that ethanol primes proinflammatory responses. Here, we investigate the effects of chronic ethanol on neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration triggered by toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) agonist poly I:C. Methods: Polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) was used to induce inflammatory responses when sensitized with D-galactosamine (D-GalN). Male C57BL/6 mice were treated with water or ethanol (5 g/kg/day, i.g., 10 days) or poly I:C (250 μg/kg, i.p.) alone or sequentially 24 hours after ethanol exposure. Cytokines, chemokines, microglial morphology, NADPH oxidase (NOX), reactive oxygen species (ROS), high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), TLR3 and cell death markers were examined using real-time PCR, ELISA, immunohistochemistry and hydroethidine histochemistry. Results: Poly I:C increased blood and brain TNFα that peaked at three hours. Blood levels returned within one day, whereas brain levels remained elevated for at least three days. Escalating blood and brain proinflammatory responses were found with ethanol, poly I:C, and ethanol-poly I:C treatment. Ethanol pretreatment potentiated poly I:C-induced brain TNFα (345%), IL-1β (331%), IL-6 (255%), and MCP-1(190%). Increased levels of brain cytokines coincided with increased microglial activation, NOX gp91phox, superoxide and markers of neurodegeneration (activated caspase-3 and Fluoro-Jade B). Ethanol potentiation of poly I:C was associated with ethanol-increased expression of TLR3 and endogenous agonist HMGB1 in the brain. Minocycline and naltrexone blocked microglial activation and neurodegeneration. Conclusions: Chronic ethanol potentiates poly I:C blood and brain proinflammatory responses. Poly I:C neuroinflammation persists after systemic responses subside. Increases in blood TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, and MCP-1 parallel brain responses consistent with blood cytokines contributing to the magnitude of neuroinflammation. Ethanol potentiation of TLR3 agonist responses is consistent with priming microglia-monocytes and increased NOX, ROS, HMGB1-TLR3 and markers of neurodegeneration. These studies indicate that TLR3 agonists increase blood cytokines that contribute to neurodegeneration and that ethanol binge drinking potentiates these responses.