Airways are protected from pathogens by forces allied with innate and adaptive immunity. Recent investigations establish critical defensive roles for leukocyte and mast cell serine-class peptidases garrisoned in membrane-bound organelles-here termed Granule-Associated Serine Peptidases of Immune Defense, or GASPIDs. Some better characterized GASPIDs include neutrophil elastase and cathepsin G (which defend against bacteria), proteinase-3 (targeted by antineutrophil antibodies in Wegeners vasculitis), mast cell β-tryptase and chymase (which promote allergic inflammation), granzymes A and B (which launch apoptosis pathways in infected host cells), and factor D (which activates complements alternative pathway). GASPIDs can defend against pathogens but can harm host cells in the process, and therefore become targets for pharmaceutical inhibition. They vary widely in specificity, yet are phylogenetically similar. Mammalian speciation supported a remarkable flowering of these enzymes as they co-evolved with specialized immune cells, including mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, cytolytic T-cells, natural killer cells, neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells. Many GASPIDs continue to evolve rapidly, providing some of the most conspicuous examples of divergent protein evolution. Consequently, students of GASPIDs are rewarded not only with insights into their roles in lung immune defense but also with clues to the origins of cellular specialization in vertebrate immunity.