Increasing evidence supports a critical role for the eosinophil in disease. Here, the mechanisms underlying eosinophil-associated inflammation are reviewed including eosinophil constituents, eosinophil maturation and release from the bone marrow, and eosinophil tissue recruitment and activation. Eosinophil effector functions in bronchial asthma are summarized with particular attention to pulmonary M2 muscarinic receptors and bronchial hyperreactivity. Recent findings supporting roles for IL-5, the eosinophil, and its ribonucleases in viral immunity are presented. Overall, this information supports an expanded view of eosinophil participation in health and disease.