Respiratory diseases place a considerable burden on global health. Bronchial asthma describes many heterogeneous clinical phenotypes that result in chronic bronchial inflammation. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common adult respiratory disorders characterized by chronic airflow limitation that is not fully reversible and is associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles and gases. Recognition of the global importance and rising prevalence of these diseases and the absence of effective treatments has led to concerted efforts to improve the efficacy of the existing drugs and develop new ones that target cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie disease pathogenesis. The transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) regulates the expression of a wide array of genes that are involved in the molecular pathobiology of the lung by regulating cellular immune responses, cell adhesion, differentiation, proliferation, angiogenesis and apoptosis. In this work, we review published clinical and experimental studies that link the inhibition of NF-κB activity with the treatment of asthma and COPD. Our end point is to help identify pathway-specific inhibitors of NF-κB that can be used for the treatment of specific human ailments.