Recent evidence points to progressive structural change in the airway wall, driven by chronic local inflammation, as a fundamental component for development of irreversible airway hyperresponsiveness. Acute and chronic inflammation is orchestrated by cytokines from recruited inflammatory cells, airway myofibroblasts and myocytes. Airway myocytes exhibit functional plasticity in their capacity for contraction, proliferation, and synthesis of matrix protein and cytokines. This confers a principal role in driving different components of the airway remodeling process, and mediating constrictor hyperresponsiveness. Functional plasticity of airway smooth muscle (ASM) is regulated by an array of environmental cues, including cytokines, which mediate their effects through receptors and a number of intracellular signaling pathways. Despite numerous studies of the cellular effects of cytokines on cultured airway myocytes, few have identified how intracellular signaling pathways modulate or induce these cellular responses. This review summarizes current understanding of these concepts and presents a model for the effects of inflammatory mediators on functional plasticity of ASM in asthma.