Asthma is one of the leading chronic diseases in the world today. An essential component of the asthma research endeavor is the animal-based experimental disease system, which provides knowledge that is not attainable through study of patients alone. Animal research is especially valuable for elucidating pathophysiology, drug testing, and as an adjunct for interpreting the results of human clinical trials. However, controversies surrounding animal systems data and at the interface between animal and human studies raise questions regarding the true utility of experimental asthma research. We consider here the considerable promise and important limitations of animal-based systems and their prospects for the future study asthma.