Acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ALI/ARDS) is a clinical syndrome that has an ever-growing list of potential causes. The transfusion of blood products is often a life-saving therapy, but it can be associated with the development of ALI/ARDS. Transfusion-related ALI is now the leading cause of transfusion-associated fatalities in the United States. Two infectious causes of ALI/ARDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome and H5N1 influenza, have recently emerged and have the potential for pandemic spread. This article discusses the clinical importance, pathogenesis, diagnosis, management, and prevention of these newly recognized causes of respiratory failure.