The use of combination budesonide/formoterol dry powder inhaler (Symbicort Turbuhaler) for both daily maintenance therapy and as-needed relief of breakthrough symptoms using a single inhaler is a new approach to asthma management that is indicated in patients with persistent asthma not adequately controlled by conventional regimens using reliever therapy with a short-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonist alone. The administration of additional corticosteroid with each reliever inhalation in response to symptoms is expected to provide improved control of airway inflammation.Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy reduced the risk of severe asthma exacerbations compared with conventional regimens using a short-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonist alone as reliever therapy in the majority of trials, while providing similar or better daily asthma control than higher fixed maintenance doses of budesonide or inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonist combination therapy in patients with generally moderate to severe, uncontrolled, persistent asthma. The strategy offers the convenience of a single inhaler and simplifies treatment by providing immediate additional anti-inflammatory medication in response to asthma symptoms and immediate step-down when symptoms abate. The improved efficacy, with respect to exacerbation prevention, observed with budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy in all double-blind comparative trials was achieved with a lower mean daily dose of inhaled corticosteroid or with fewer daily inhalations of reliever medication. Budesonide/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy was well tolerated with an incidence of adverse events similar to that with conventional regimens. Therefore, it offers a new approach to therapy in patients with uncontrolled, persistent asthma; providing improved efficacy with a lower overall drug load.