The inflammatory response to infection is necessary for host defense but can contribute to the systemic toxicity and lung injury that may result from pneumonia. In some settings, adjunctive treatment of lower respiratory infections with anti-inflammatory agents can reduce morbidity. Corticosteroids have a well-documented role in the management of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia complicating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Corticosteroids also were found to reduce systemic symptoms of tuberculosis in a number of older studies, but their role as adjuncts to contemporary antimicrobial therapy are less clear. Corticosteroids also may be effective under some circumstances in the treatment of inflammatory sequelae of respiratory tract infection, such as tuberculous pleurisy, bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, or prolonged acute respiratory distress syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may have limited applications in the modulation of chronic airway inflammation. Strategies targeting specific cytokines have not been effective to date, but remain active areas of investigation.