Bronchiolitis is a distressing, potentially life-threatening respiratory condition that affects young babies. Around 2-3% of all infants younger than 1 year are admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis, usually during the seasonal epidemic. The majority of these infants are infected with respiratory syncytial virus and all have an intense inflammatory response in their airways. Although most infants recover, they have an increased risk of recurrent wheezing. Although bronchiolitis is common, little is known about what causes infants to be susceptible. Diagnostic interventions have little effect on clinical outcome, and apart from supportive measures, there is no specific treatment. Bronchiolitis therefore presents an intriguing clinical conundrum and a major challenge to researchers. High quality clinical studies are needed to clarify assessment of disease severity and criteria for hospital admission, particularly the use of pulse oximetry and chest radiography. Careful mapping of the inflammatory pathways in the pathogenesis of bronchiolitis should lead to development of new therapies to alleviate symptoms.