Histopathologic classification plays a key role in separating multiple forms of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia into clinically meaningful categories with important differences in natural history, prognosis, and treatment. Microscopic criteria in diagnosis of these entities include the pattern and microanatomic distribution of inflammation, fibroblast proliferation, collagen deposition, and architectural remodeling. Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) defines idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and is the most common of the idiopathic interstitial pneumonias. UIP has distinctive morphologic features that allow precise diagnosis in classical cases. Other forms of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia include desquamative interstitial pneumonia, respiratory bronchiolitis-associated interstitial lung disease, acute interstitial pneumonia, and nonspecific interstitial pneumonia. These latter categories differ from UIP in that the histopathologic findings do not, by themselves, allow specific diagnosis in most cases and require careful correlation with clinical and radiologic findings.