Skip to main content

Get started

RunPod provides a simple way to run large language models (LLMs) as Serverless Endpoints. vLLM Workers are pre-built Docker images that you can configure entirely within the RunPod UI. This tutorial will guide you through deploying an OpenAI compatible Endpoint with a vLLM inference engine on RunPod.


Before getting started, ensure you have the following:

  • A RunPod account
  • A Hugging Face token (if using gated models)
  • OpenAI or other required libraries installed for the code examples

Deploy using the Web UI

You can use RunPod's Web UI to deploy a vLLM Worker with a model directly from Hugging Face.

  1. Log in to your RunPod account and go to the Serverless page.
  2. Under Quick Deploy, select vLLM and choose Start.

You will now enter the vLLM module. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your LLM as a Serverless Endpoint:

  1. Add a Hugging Face model (e.g., openchat/openchat-3.5-0106).
  2. (Optional) Add a Hugging Face token for gated models.
  3. Select your CUDA version.
  4. Review your options and choose Next.

On the vLLM parameters page, provide additional parameters and options for your model:

  1. In LLM Settings, enter 8192 for the Max Model Length parameter.
  2. Review your options and choose Next.

On the Endpoint parameters page, configure your deployment:

  1. Specify your GPU configuration for your Worker.
  2. Configure your Worker deployment.
    • (Optional) Select FlashBoot to speed up Worker startup times.
  3. Update the Container Disk size if needed.
  4. Select Deploy.

Once the Endpoint initializes, you can send requests to your Endpoint. Continue to the Send a request section.

Deploy using the Worker image

One advantage of deploying your model with the vLLM Worker is the minimal configuration required. For most models, you only need to provide the pre-built vLLM Worker image name and the LLM model name.

Follow these steps to run the vLLM Worker on a Serverless Endpoint:

  1. Log in to the RunPod Serverless console.
  2. Select + New Endpoint.
  3. Provide the following:
    • Endpoint name
    • Select a GPU (filter for CUDA 12.1.0+ support under the Advanced tab if needed)
    • Configure the number of Workers
    • (Optional) Select FlashBoot to speed up Worker startup times
    • Enter the vLLM RunPod Worker image name with the compatible CUDA version:
      • runpod/worker-vllm:stable-cuda11.8.0
      • runpod/worker-vllm:stable-cuda12.1.0
    • (Optional) Select a network storage volume
    • Configure the environment variables:
      • MODEL_NAME: (Required) The large language model (e.g., openchat/openchat-3.5-0106)
      • HF_TOKEN: (Optional) Your Hugging Face API token for private models
  4. Select Deploy.

Once the Endpoint initializes, you can send requests to your Endpoint. Continue to the Send a request section.

For a complete list of available environment variables, see the vLLM Worker variables.

Send a request

This section walks you through sending a request to your Serverless Endpoint. The vLLM Worker can use any Hugging Face model and is compatible with OpenAI's API. If you have the OpenAI library installed, you can continue using it with the vLLM Worker. See the OpenAI documentation for more information.

Initialize your project

Choose your programming language and add the following code to your file. Set the RUNPOD_ENDPOINT_ID and RUNPOD_API_KEY environment variables with your Endpoint ID and API Key.

Create a file called with the following code:

from openai import OpenAI
import os
endpoint_id = os.environ.get("RUNPOD_ENDPOINT_ID")
api_key = os.environ.get("RUNPOD_API_KEY")
client = OpenAI(
chat_completion =
messages=[{"role": "user", "content": "Reply with: Hello, World!"}]

Install the OpenAI library if needed:

pip install openai

Run your code

Run your code from the terminal:


The output should look similar to:

"choices": [
"finish_reason": "stop",
"index": 0,
"message": {
"content": "Hello, World!",
"role": "assistant"
"created": 3175963,
"id": "cmpl-74d7792c92cd4b159292c38bda1286b0",
"model": "openchat/openchat-3.5-0106",
"object": "chat.completion",
"usage": {
"completion_tokens": 5,
"prompt_tokens": 39,
"total_tokens": 44

You have now successfully sent a request to your Serverless Endpoint and received a response.


If you encounter issues deploying or using vLLM Workers, check the following:

  • Ensure your RunPod API Key has the necessary permissions to deploy and access Serverless Endpoints.
  • Double-check that you have set the correct environment variables for your Endpoint ID and API Key.
  • Verify that you are using the correct CUDA version for your selected GPU.
  • If using a gated model, ensure your Hugging Face token is valid and has access to the model.

To learn more about managing your Serverless Endpoints, see the Manage Endpoints guide. For a complete reference of the vLLM Worker environment variables, see the vLLM Worker variables documentation.