Abstract Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is widely used to improve alveolar hypoventilation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Several studies indicate a better survival when NIV is used, certainly in patients with none to moderate bulbar dysfunction. Data on quality of life (QoL) are rather disputable. Overall QoL is shown to be equivalent in patients with or without NIV, although health-related QoL is shown to be increased in patients with none to moderate bulbar dysfunction. NIV improves sleep quality, although patient-ventilator asynchronies are demonstrated. FVC < 50%, seated or supine, has been widely applied as threshold to initiate NIV. Today, measurements of respiratory muscle strength, nocturnal gas exchange and symptomatic complaints are used as indicators to start NIV. Being compliant with NIV therapy increases QoL and survival. Cough augmentation has an important role in appropriate NIV. Patients have today more technical options and patients with benefit from these advances are growing in number. Tracheal ventilation needs to be discussed when NIV seems impossible or becomes insufficient.