The lung contains many subsets of dendritic cells that are distributed in various anatomical compartments. In homeostatic conditions, a fine-tuned balance exists between plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cells necessary for maintaining tolerance to inhaled antigen and avoiding overt inflammation. These subsets of DCs also play important roles in establishment of airway inflammation seen in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Based on these new insights on airway DC biology, several approaches that interfere with DC function show potential as new intervention strategies for these ever increasing diseases.