Chronic airway diseases like cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, diffuse panbronchiolitis, and bronchiectasis are all associated with chronic inflammation. The airway mucosa responds to infection and inflammation in part by surface mucous (goblet) cell and submucosal gland hyperplasia and hypertrophy with mucus hypersecretion. Products of inflammation including neutrophil derived DNA and filamentous actin, effete cells, bacteria, and cell debris all contribute to mucus purulence and, when this is expectorated it is called sputum. Mucus is usually cleared by ciliary movement, and sputum is cleared by cough. These airway diseases each are associated with the production of mucus and sputum with characteristic composition, polymer structure, and biophysical properties. These properties change with the progress of the disease making it possible to use sputum analysis to identify the potential cause and severity of airway diseases. This information has also been important for the development of effective mucoactive therapy to promote airway hygiene.