The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Asthma Clinical Research Network (ACRN) recently completed its work after 20 years of collaboration as a multicentre clinical trial network. When formed, its stated mission was to perform multiple controlled clinical trials for treating patients with asthma by dispassionately examining new and existing therapies, and to rapidly communicate its findings to the medical community. The ACRN conducted 15 major clinical trials. In addition, clinical data, manual of operations, protocols and template informed consents from all ACRN trials are available via NHLBI BioLINCC (https://biolincc.nhlbi.nih.gov/studies/). This network contributed major insights into the use of inhaled corticosteroids, short-acting and long-acting ß-adrenergic agonists, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and novel agents (tiotropium, colchicine and macrolide antibiotics). They also pioneered studies of the variability in drug response, predictors of treatment response and pharmacogenetics. This review highlights the major research observations from the ACRN that have impacted the current management of asthma.