The natural history of asthma appears to be driven primarily by the timing and duration of viral respiratory infections. From the very high rate of infections in childhood, to the more sporadic pattern seen in adults, the cycle of acute injury followed by an inefficient repair process helps explain the clinical patterns of asthma severity currently recognized by asthma guidelines. Why the asthmatic host responds to viral injury in a particular way is largely a mystery and the subject of intense investigation. The role of viruses in asthma extends not just to intermittent but to persistent disease, and to both the atopic as well as nonatopic phenotypes. Future therapeutic strategies should include primary prevention via the development of antiviral innate immunity-enhancing vaccines, as well as secondary prevention via the use of antiviral agents, or immunomodulators designed to boost the antiviral response or interrupt the proinflammatory cascade.