Nocturnal noninvasive ventilation (NNV), the provision of ventilatory assistance via a noninvasive interface mainly during sleep, has assumed an important role in the management of chronic hypoventilatory syndromes. This review focuses on recent developments related to the use of NNV to treat various forms of chronic respiratory failure or insufficiency. In the past, NNV has been used mainly to treat respiratory insufficiency in patients with neuromuscular disease (NMD) or chest wall deformity; it should be instituted when these patients have orthopnea or daytime symptoms associated with nocturnal hypoventilation. An emerging application is to treat obesity-hypoventilation syndrome, particularly in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) failures. Additionally, it has a role in managing some patients with obstructive sleep apnea who are hypoventilating or find the lower expiratory pressure with bilevel positive pressure ventilators more tolerable than with CPAP alone. NNV to treat severe, stable COPD remains controversial, although a subgroup of patients with hypercapnea and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) seems most likely to respond favorably. NNV to treat central SDB in patients with congestive heart failure continues to be investigated. Recent findings from a Canadian CPAP trial were disappointing, but preliminary results on a novel adaptive NNV mode are promising.