Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) is the major protein present in invaginations of the plasma membrane of cells known as caveolae. Cav-1 is expressed in numerous resident and inflammatory cells implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma and chronic inflammatory respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A remarkable repertoire of functions has been identified for Cav-1 and these extend to, and have relevance to, asthma and chronic inflammatory respiratory diseases. Important processes influenced by Cav-1 include inflammation, fibrosis, smooth muscle contractility, regulation of apoptosis and cell senescence as well as epithelial barrier function and homeostasis. A better understanding of Cav-1 may be useful in developing new therapies for chronic inflammatory respiratory diseases.