Inflammation is a common feature in the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke-associated diseases. The recruitment of inflammatory cells into the lung following cigarette smoke exposure presents a risk of tissue damage through the release of toxic mediators, including proteolytic enzymes and reactive oxygen species. This review represents a toxicological approach to investigation of cigarette smoke-induced lung injury, with a focus on laboratory studies and an emphasis on inflammatory mechanisms. The studies discussed in this review analyze the role of inflammation and inflammatory mediators in the development of injury. In cases where information relating to cigarette smoke is limited, examples are taken from other models of lung injury applicable to cigarette smoke. The primary aim of the review is to summarize published work so as to permit (1) an evaluation of chronic lung injury and inflammatory responses in animal models, (2) a discussion of inflammatory mediators in the development of chronic injury, and (3) identification of immunological mechanisms of injury. These studies discuss the currently understood roles of cytokines, cell adhesion molecules, and oxidative stress in inflammatory reactions and lung injury. A role for lipocortin 1 (annexin 1), a naturally occurring defense factor against inflammation, is discussed because of the possibility that impaired synthesis and degradation of lipocortin 1 will influence immune responses in animals exposed to cigarette smoke either by augmenting T helper cell Th1 response or by shifting Th1 to Th2 response. While Th1 augmentation will increase the risk for development of emphysema, Th1 to Th2 shift will favor development of asthma.