CT has provided new insights on the pathophysiology of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), demonstrating that ARDS does not affect the lung parenchyma homogeneously. These findings suggest that lung edema, as assessed by CT scan, should be included in the definition. Lung CT findings may provide a firm rationale for tailoring tidal volume during mechanical ventilation. Ideally, tidal volume should be proportional to the portion of the lung open to ventilation, as assessed by CT scan, rather than to the body weight. CT assessment of lung recruitability seems to be a prerequisite for a rational setting of positive end-expiratory pressure.