Haemophilus influenzae is present as a commensal organism in the nasopharynx of most healthy adults from where it can spread to cause both systemic and respiratory tract infection. This bacterium is divided into typeable forms (such as type b) or nontypeable forms based on the presence or absence of a tough polysaccharide capsule. Respiratory disease is predominantly caused by the nontypeable forms (NTHi). Haemophilus influenzae has evolved a number of strategies to evade the host defense including the ability to invade into local tissue. Pathogenic properties of this bacterium as well as defects in host defense may result in the spread of this bacterium from the upper airway to the bronchi of the lung. This can result in airway inflammation and colonization particularly in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Treatment of respiratory tract infection with Haemophilus influenzae is often only partially successful with ongoing infection and inflammation. Improvement in patient outcome will be dependent on a better understanding of the pathogenesis and host immune response to this bacterium.