The care and management of the pneumonia patient are formidable challenges to the physician. As long as the basic underlying host defense defects in these patients remain elusive, the clinician's approach will remain symptomatic and empirical. Further knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology of pneumonia will undoubtedly provide innovative approaches to both the prevention and the early and effective treatment of this infection. Clearly, the development of a multimodal approach, including components of immune modulation and immune restoration, is needed to improve the multiple defects in the host defense system; however, the normal host defense system operates in a delicate balance. Efforts to stimulate the immune system nonselectively may prove to be as deleterious to the patient as are the negative effects of their immunocompromised state.