Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has a substantial mortality rate and annually affects more than 140,000 people in the USA alone. Standard management includes lung protective ventilation but this impairs carbon dioxide clearance and may lead to right heart dysfunction or increased intracranial pressure. Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal has the potential to optimize lung protective ventilation by uncoupling oxygenation and carbon dioxide clearance. The aim of this article is to review the carbon dioxide removal strategies that are likely to be widely available in the near future. Relevant published literature was identified using PubMed and Medline searches. Queries were performed by using the search terms ECCOR, AVCO2R, VVCO2R, respiratory dialysis, and by combining carbon dioxide removal and ARDS. The only search limitation imposed was English language. Additional articles were identified from reference lists in the studies that were reviewed. Several novel strategies to achieve carbon dioxide removal were identified, some of which are already commercially available whereas others are in advanced stages of development.