Acute lung injury (ALI) and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are common indications for ICU admission and mechanical ventilation. ALI/ARDS also consumes significant health care resources and is a common cause of death in ICU patients. Obesity produces changes in respiratory system physiology that could affect outcomes for ALI/ARDS patients and their response to treatment. Additionally, the biochemical alterations seen in obese patients, such as increased inflammation and altered metabolism, could affect the risk of developing ALI/ARDS in patients with another risk factor (eg, sepsis). The few studies that have examined the influence of obesity on the outcomes from ALI/ARDS are inconclusive. Furthermore, observed results could be biased by disparities in provided care.