The reported pluripotential capabilities of many human stem cell types has made them an attractive area of research, given the belief they may hold considerable therapeutic potential for treating a wide range of human diseases and injuries. Although the bulk of stem cell based research has focused on developing procedures for the treatment of pancreatic, neural, cardiovascular and haematopoietic diseases, the potential for deriving respiratory cell types from stem cells for treatment of respiratory specific diseases has also been explored. It is suggested that stem cell derivatives may be used for lung replacement/regeneration therapeutics and high though-put pharmacological screening strategies for a variety of respiratory injuries and diseases including: cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary edema. This review will explore recent progress in characterizing adult respiratory and bone marrow derived stem cells with respiratory potential as well as the endogenous mechanisms directing the homing of these cells to the diseased and injured lung. In addition, the potential for embryonic stem cell based therapies in this domain as well as the histological, anatomical and molecular aspects of respiratory development will be summarized.