Oxidative stress results from an oxidant/antioxidant imbalance in favour of oxidants. A large number of studies have demonstrated that increased oxidative burden occurs in airways diseases, shown by increased marks of oxidative stress in the airspaces and systemically in these patients. There is now substantial evidence that oxidative stress plays an important role in the injurious and inflammatory responses in airways diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition to these proinflammatory mechanisms resulting from oxidative stress, protective mechanisms such as the upregulation of protective antioxidant genes also occur. At present, effective antioxidant therapy that has good bioavailability and potency is not available. Such drugs are being developed and should in the future allow the hypothesis that oxidative stress is a fundamental factor in the inflammation, which occurs in these airways diseases to be tested.