Identifying and developing novel chemical entities (NCE) for the treatment of asthma is a time-consuming process and liabilities that endanger the successful progression of a compound from research into the patient are found throughout all phases of drug discovery. In particular the failure of advanced compounds in clinical studies due to lack of efficacy and/or safety concerns is tremendously costly. Therefore, in order to try and reduce the failure rate in clinical trials various in vitro and in vivo tests are performed during preclinical development, to rapidly identify liabilities, eliminate high risk compounds and promote promising potential drug candidates. To achieve this objective, numerous prerequisites have to be met regarding the physico-chemical properties of the compound, and bioactivity or model systems are needed to rate the therapeutic potential of new compounds. Drug liabilities such as target and species specificity, formulation issues, pharmacokinetics as well as pharmacodynamics and the toxic potential of the compound have to be analyzed in great detail before a compound can enter a clinical trial. A particularly challenging aspect of developing novel NCEs for the treatment of asthma is choosing and setting up in vivo models believed to be predictive for human disease. Numerous companies have in the past and are currently developing NCEs targeting many different pathways and cells with the aim to treat asthma. However, currently the only NCE having a significant market share are long-acting β-agonists (LABA), inhaled and orally active steroids and leukotriene receptor antagonists. In the past many novel NCE for the treatment of asthma were effective in animal models but failed in the clinic. In this review we outline the prerequisites of novel NCE needed for clinical development.