Reactive oxygen or nitrogen species (ROS, RNS) and oxidative stress in the respiratory system increase the production of mediators of pulmonary inflammation and initiate or promote mechanisms of carcinogenesis. The lungs are exposed daily to oxidants generated either endogenously or exogenously (air pollutants, cigarette smoke, etc.). Cells in aerobic organisms are protected against oxidative damage by enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems. Recent epidemiologic investigations have shown associations between increased incidence of respiratory diseases and lung cancer from exposure to low levels of various forms of respirable fibers and particulate matter (PM), at occupational or urban air polluting environments. Lung cancer increases substantially for tobacco smokers due to the synergistic effects in the generation of ROS, leading to oxidative stress and inflammation with high DNA damage potential. Physical and chemical characteristics of particles (size, transition metal content, speciation, stable free radicals, etc.) play an important role in oxidative stress. In turn, oxidative stress initiates the synthesis of mediators of pulmonary inflammation in lung epithelial cells and initiation of carcinogenic mechanisms. Inhalable quartz, metal powders, mineral asbestos fibers, ozone, soot from gasoline and diesel engines, tobacco smoke and PM from ambient air pollution (PM₁₀ and PM₂.₅) are involved in various oxidative stress mechanisms. Pulmonary cancer initiation and promotion has been linked to a series of biochemical pathways of oxidative stress, DNA oxidative damage, macrophage stimulation, telomere shortening, modulation of gene expression and activation of transcription factors with important role in carcinogenesis. In this review we are presenting the role of ROS and oxidative stress in the production of mediators of pulmonary inflammation and mechanisms of carcinogenesis.