Since the original clarification of the obstructive nature of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in 1965, much has been learned about the disorder. It is a condition with a high prevalence with obesity as a major risk factor. It aggregates in families, a relationship that is not simply explained by obesity. Premenopausal women are relatively protected from the disorder because OSA is uncommon in this group. Its prevalence in women rises after menopause. Although OSA is a risk factor for excessive sleepiness, there is developing evidence that it is also a risk factor for hypertension, acute cardiovascular events, and insulin resistance. The first line of therapy is nasal continuous positive airway pressure. Data as to the efficacy of continuous positive airway pressure in severe OSA have come from randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials with the endpoints being sleepiness, quality of life, and 24-h ambulatory blood pressure. Data are currently less convincing for treatment outcomes in mild to moderate OSA, and new clinical trials to assess outcomes in this group are underway. Thus, even though this field only began toward the end of the first century of the American Thoracic Society, substantial progress has been made, and OSA has increasingly emerged as a major public health concern.