There is emerging evidence that chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema may originate in early life. Respiratory infections with certain bacterial pathogens such as Chlamydia, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in early life may promote permanent deleterious changes in immunity, lung structure, and function that predispose to, or increase the severity of chronic respiratory diseases in later life. For example, these infections increase immune responses, which drive subsequent asthma pathogenesis. Targeting the pathways involved with specific inhibitors or agonists may prevent these consequences of early-life infection. Vaccination and immunomodulatory therapies that control the infections and their sequelae may also be efficacious.