In the past 2 years there has been an explosion of information regarding molecules that regulate TNF-R1 signalling, and even reviews published in 2010 are out of date. TNF-R1 activation of NF-κB is a text book example of a signal transduction pathway regulated by ubiquitin and many of the concepts concerning the different roles of ubiquitin chains were first outlined in TNF-R1 signalling. What was once a very simple pathway with clearly defined roles for ubiquitin in regulating TNF-R1 signalling has, however, now become so complicated that we have 'an embarrassment of riches'. The less polite might claim our pathways of TNF-R1 signalling look as complicated as a web constructed by a drug-addled spider. This review will pick apart only one small strand of the web, and will address the role of ubiquitin in the activation of NF-κB by TNF with a focus on interpreting in vivo results. Nevertheless some of the concepts, for example the role of linear ubiquitin chains in regulating signalling, may be applicable to the family in general.