This brief review highlights the rise in asthma mortality witnessed in many countries. It outlines the multifactorial character of this phenomenon, which in most instances is a complex interplay between physician, patient, and environment. The pathophysiology of airflow obstruction and in particular the role of hyperinflation are outlined. These data may allow better prediction of who is at risk of fatal asthma (FA). Finally, potential approaches to the prevention of FA are outlined.