Recent clinical studies have brought asthma's complex inflammatory processes into clearer focus, and understanding them can help to delineate therapeutic implications. Asthma is a chronic airway inflammatory disease characterized by the infiltration of airway T cells, CD(+) (T helper) cells, mast cells, basophils, macrophages, and eosinophils. The cysteinyl leukotrienes also are important mediators in asthma and modulators of cytokine function, and they have been implicated in the pathophysiology of asthma through multiple mechanisms. Although the role of eosinophils in asthma and their contribution to bronchial hyperresponsiveness are still debated, it is widely accepted that their numbers and activation status are increased. Eosinophils may be targets for various pharmacologic activities of leukotriene receptor antagonists through their ability to downregulate a number of events that may be key to the effector function of these cells.