In 2003 and 2004 the Swiss Paediatric Pulmonology Group (SAPP) revised the recommendations for the management of obstructive airways disease in infancy and childhood (Paediatrica 2004;15:13-28) and published recommendations for the management of acute bronchiolitis in infancy (Paediatrica 2003;14:18-21). The concept underlying these new guidelines is the fact that childhood wheezing illness encompasses a range of disorders or phenotypes with a similar clinical manifestation (wheeze, cough and breathlessness) but varying pathology, aetiology, prognosis and response to treatment. Based on the available scientific evidence, phenotype-specific and age-dependent management of wheezing illness is advocated in the revised guidelines. Major changes compared to earlier recommendations include a stepwise approach to management depending on age, phenotype and severity of disease and use of beta 2-agonists purely on an on-demand basis. Comparison of these recommendations with epidemiological data on current treatment practice of obstructive airways disease in Swiss children suggests that many children with bronchiolitis and mild viral wheeze might be overtreated while management of children with severe persistent symptoms could be improved.