Recent guidelines for the management of asthma have emphasized the role of inflammation in persistent asthma. Medications with anti-inflammatory properties are recommended as the primary long-term-control medications. Of the available choices of long-term-control medications, inhaled corticosteroids are the preferred medication. A literature review of the available studies supports this recommendation of inhaled corticosteroids as the preferred agents for long-term control. Other long-term-control medications--specifically nedocromil, theophylline, and leukotriene modifiers, but not cromolyn--can supplement the beneficial effect of inhaled corticosteroids on pulmonary function and symptom control. Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists can also provide an additive clinical benefit to inhaled corticosteroids on symptom control and pulmonary function, but they do not provide additional anti-inflammatory effect. Extended long-term studies of each of the long-term-control medications with anti-inflammatory actions are needed to assess their specific effect on airway remodeling and on the natural history of asthma.