Disorders of respiratory control are a prominent feature of Rett syndrome (RTT), a severely debilitating condition caused by mutations in the gene encoding methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). RTT patients present with a complex respiratory phenotype that can include periods of hyperventilation, apnea, breath holds terminated by Valsalva maneuvers, forced and deep breathing and apneustic breathing, as well as abnormalities of heart rate control and cardiorespiratory integration. Recent studies of mouse models of RTT have begun to shed light on neurologic deficits that likely contribute to respiratory dysfunction including, in particular, defects in neurochemical signaling resulting from abnormal patterns of neurotransmitter and neuromodulator expression. The authors hypothesize that breathing dysregulation in RTT results from disturbances in mechanisms that modulate the respiratory rhythm, acting either alone or in combination with more subtle disturbances in rhythm and pattern generation. This article reviews the evidence underlying this hypothesis as well as recent efforts to translate our emerging understanding of neurochemical defects in mouse models of RTT into preclinical trials of potential treatments for respiratory dysfunction in this disease.