Regular exercise may improve systemic markers of chronic inflammation, but direct evidence and dose-response information is lacking. The objective of this study was to examine the effect and time course of changes in markers of chronic inflammation in response to progressive exercise training (and subsequent detraining). Forty-one sedentary men 45–64 yr of age completed either a progressive 24-wk exercise intervention or control followed by short-term removal of the intervention (2-wk detraining). Serum IL-6 fell by −0.4 pg/ml (SD 0.6) after 12 wk and responded to moderate-intensity exercise. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity fell −7 U/l (SD 11) at 24 wk although there was no evidence of any change by week 12 (and therefore ALT required more vigorous-intensity activity and/or a more prolonged intervention). The effect on IL-6 was lost after 2-wk detraining whereas the change in ALT was retained. The temporal fall and rise in IL-6 with training and subsequent detraining in men with high IL-6 at baseline provided a retrospective opportunity to examine parallel genomic changes in peripheral mononuclear cells. A subset of 53 probes was differentially regulated by at least twofold after training with 31 of these changes being lost after detraining (n = 6). IL-6 responded quickly to the carefully monitored exercise intervention (within weeks) and required only moderate-intensity exercise, whereas ALT took longer to change and/or required more vigorous-intensity exercise. Further work is required to determine whether any of the genes that temporally changed in parallel with changes in IL-6 are a cause or consequence of this response.