Multiple types of aerosol devices are commonly used for the administration of medical aerosol therapy to patients with pulmonary diseases. All of these devices have been shown to be effective in trials where they are used correctly. However, failure to operate any of these devices properly has been associated with poor clinical response and limited patient adherence to therapy. Therefore, the selection of the best aerosol device for the individual patient is very important for optimizing the results of medical aerosol therapy. This article presents the rationale for selecting the most appropriate aerosol device to administer inhaled drugs in specific patient populations, with emphasis on patient-, drug-, device- and environment-related factors and with a comparison between the available devices. The following recommendations for the selection of the 'best' aerosol device for each patient population are intended to help clinicians gain a clear understanding of the specific issues and challenges so that they can optimize aerosol drug delivery and its therapeutic outcomes in patients.