The number of adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) is increasing. They are striving for independence and a fulfilling life with focus on career, relationships, education and finances at a time when lung function is likely to be declining and complications of this multi-system disease are increasing. Maintaining the quality and improving the duration of life are continuing challenges for the -clinician and the patient. Increased hope and greater expectations have been provided by a number of recent clinical advances and active research into novel treatments, including gene therapy. There has been increased recognition of the necessity for early diagnosis, adequate monitoring and effective intervention for complications such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Research into multi-resistant bacteria and clonal strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is ongoing and attention has focused on infection control policies. Although more high-level evidence is required on many issues confronting people with CF, a considerable effort has been made over the last decade to provide a more evidence-based approach to therapy with a number of large controlled clinical trials. For the adult with CF, there are also more decisions to be made. There is focus on reproductive health, with most couples enjoying the real possibility of having children. For those with advanced disease, the option for lung transplantation is well established. Maintenance of quality care will require adequate planning, effective transition programmes from paediatric to adult care, specialized training for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals and the allocation of sufficient resources to accommodate the inevitable increase in patient numbers.