Numerous diseases affect the respiratory tract and the aerosol administration has been widely considered as an adapted and non-invasive method for local delivery. This pathway induces a lung concentration and thus also limits, systemic side effects. However, aerosol delivery of active pharmaceutical ingredients represents a real challenge, due to numerous obstacles such as the specific respiratory movement, the presence of mucus or surfactant, and the mucociliary clearance. Nanomedicines, such as liposomes, micelles or nanoparticles, offer the possibility to increase bioavailability and favor intracellular penetration of specific drugs into lung tissue. This review focuses on the description of aerosol formulations and cellular barriers including design, characteristics and progressive adaptation to airways anatomy. Then, aerosolized formulations currently clinically approved, or in clinical trial are summarized according to the encapsulated drug. In a final section, promising aerosol formulations in pre-clinical studies are detailed.