Chronic conditions dominate health care in most parts of the world, including the United States. Management of a disease by the patient is central to control of its effects. A wide range of influences in the person's social and physical environments enhance or impede management efforts. Interventions to improve management by patients can produce positive outcomes including better monitoring of a condition, fewer symptoms, enhanced physical and psychosocial functioning, and reduced health care use. Successful programs have been theory based. Self-regulation is a promising framework for the development of interventions. Nonetheless, serious gaps in understanding and improving disease management by patients remain because of an emphasis on clinical settings for program delivery, neglect of the factors beyond patient behavior that enable or deter effective management, limitations of study designs in much work to date, reliance on short-term rather than long-term assessments, and failure to evaluate the independent contribution of various program components.