macrolides are drugs that have antimicrobial effects, especially against intracellular pathogens. various studies have shown that macrolides might also have anti-inflammatory effects. macrolides inhibit the production of interleukins and can reduce pulmonary neutrophilic inflammation. clinical trials have demonstrated beneficial effects of macrolides in various chronic lung diseases. the objective of this study was to review recent data in the medical literature on the anti-inflammatory effects of macrolides in childhood lung diseases by searching the medline (pubmed) database. we used the following search terms: "macrolide and cystic fibrosis"; "macrolide and asthma"; "macrolide and bronchiolitis obliterans"; and "macrolide and acute bronchiolitis". we selected articles published in international scientific journals between 2001 and 2012. clinical studies and in vitro evidence have confirmed the anti-inflammatory effect of macrolides in respiratory diseases. some clinical trials have shown the benefits of the administration of macrolides in patients with cystic fibrosis, although the risk of bacterial resistance should be considered in the analysis of those benefits. such benefits are controversial in other respiratory diseases, and the routine use of macrolides is not recommended. further controlled clinical trials are required in order to assess the efficacy of macrolides as anti-inflammatory drugs, so that the benefits in the treatment of each specific clinical condition can be better established.