A review of the literature on reduction pneumoplasty for giant bullous emphysema was undertaken to identify current criteria for this surgical treatment and in the hope of obtaining insights into evaluating reduction pneumoplasty for nonbullous emphysema. Twenty-two retrospective case series, published since 1950, were retrieved by a computer search of the literature and a search of the Index Medicus prior to 1966. Reduction pneumoplasty is most effective when bullae are larger than one third of a hemithorax with evidence of compression of adjacent lung tissue and an FEV1 of less than 50% predicted; the presence of emphysema in nonbullous lung and the amount of compression are best judged by CT. The rationale for reduction pneumoplasty for nonbullous emphysema is supported by the similar early functional changes after reduction pneumoplasty for bullous and nonbullous-improvement of blood gas values and lung mechanics. A single study showing that decline of lung function after surgery for bullous emphysema was less in those who stopped smoking than in those who continued to smoke supports the need for preoperative and maintained smoking cessation in patients receiving reduction pneumoplasty. After 4 decades, the duration of improvement in lung function, whether worsening of emphysema occurs in remaining lung, and late morbidity and mortality after reduction pneumoplasty for bullous emphysema are not well defined. A registry with an unoperated-on comparison group could more rapidly accumulate such data after reduction pneumoplasty for nonbullous emphysema.