Inflammation is a hallmark of several diseases of the lung including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There have been major advances in our understanding of the molecular processes underlying the development of inflammation in asthma and COPD. In this review we describe the development of novel anti-inflammatory strategies for the treatment of inflammatory lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and pulmonary fibrosis. Basic concepts of inflammatory networks are described including overviews on involved cell types and mediators. The molecular mechanisms of current approaches of therapy for asthma and CODP such as corticosteroids, cromones, leukotriene inhibitors, antihistamines, and immunosuppressants are reviewed. The focus of the article is on novel approaches to treat inflammation in the airways. A general overview is given and includes new developments of steroids, receptor- and mediator-directed approaches, protease inhibitors, T cell modulators, inhibitors of cell signaling, and genetic therapy. Several examples of new therapies are outlined in more detail such as application of anti-IgE agents, CpG oligonucleotides, and therapies acting on transcription.