The literature contains a number of reports of early work involving telemedicine and chronic disease; however, there are comparatively few studies in asthma. Most of the telemedicine studies in asthma have investigated the use of remote monitoring of patients in the home, e.g. transmitting spirometry data via a telephone modem to a central server. The primary objective of these studies was to improve management. A secondary benefit was that patient adherence to prescribed treatment is also likely to be improved. Early results are encouraging; home monitoring in a randomized controlled trial in Japan significantly reduced the number of emergency room visits by patients with poorly controlled asthma. Other studies have described the cost-benefits of a specialist asthma nurse who can manage patients by telephone contact, as well as deliver asthma education. Many web-based systems are available for the general public or healthcare professionals to improve education in asthma, although their quality is highly variable. The work on telemedicine in asthma clearly shows that the technique holds promise in a number of areas. Unfortunately - as in telemedicine generally - most of the literature in patients with asthma refers to pilot trials and feasibility studies, with short-term outcomes. Large-scale, formal research trials are required to establish the cost effectiveness of telemedicine in asthma.