International surveys have demonstrated that asthma is still underdiagnosed and undertreated in many parts of the world. Despite improvements in the standard of asthma care delivered in many areas, as evidenced by improved global asthma mortality data, much information on projects and programmes undertaken in resource-limited regions of the world is not in the public domain. The aim of this report is to review projects and programmes in diverse regions around the world so that health care providers, planners and consumers may draw on the successes, failures and lessons learnt. Such real world experiences may contribute to achieving Global Initiative for Asthma goals of asthma control. Asthma projects and programmes in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, South Africa and Turkey were discussed by a group of experts in asthma care, the Advancing Asthma Care Network, from their respective countries, over a course of three satellite meetings in 2010. Collective analyses consistently identified low rates of dissemination and implementation of national and international treatment guidelines, low levels of continuing medical education and training of primary health care professionals and access and distribution of inhaled corticosteroids to be major barriers that are critical to the overall success of a national asthma management programme. In the less developed asthma programmes, under-recognition and undertreatment further limited the success of the programmes. Evidence from well-established national asthma management programmes suggests that establishment of a successful programme entails a logical progression through specific developmental stages, starting with political/stakeholder endorsement and commitment, followed by epidemiological evaluation, evaluation of disease burden, evaluation of access to care and best therapy, and finally optimisation and maintenance therapy for individual patients.