The deliberate production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by phagocyte NADPH oxidase is widely appreciated as a critical component of antimicrobial host defense. Recently, additional homologs of NADPH oxidase (NOX) have been discovered throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, which appear to possess diverse functions in addition to host defense, in cell proliferation, differentiation, and in regulation of gene expression. Several of these NOX homologs are also expressed within the respiratory tract, where they participate in innate host defense as well as in epithelial and inflammatory cell signaling and gene expression, and fibroblast and smooth muscle cell proliferation, in response to bacterial or viral infection and environmental stress. Inappropriate expression or activation of NOX/DUOX during various lung pathologies suggests their specific involvement in respiratory disease. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the general functional properties of mammalian NOX enzymes, and their specific importance in respiratory tract physiology and pathology.