Respiratory disorders are common problems for adults and children in North America and generally represent the outcome of gene-environment interactions. Some problems are considered genetic in origin, such as cystic fibrosis, and others are considered environmental in origin, such as respiratory infections. Emerging information indicates that even genetic-based disorders are influenced by the environment and that environmental-based disorders are modified by personal genetic factors in individual physiologic responses. An understanding of an individual's personal risk factors for disease or health problem development can allow health care professionals to tailor health promotion strategies and treatment plans with appropriate environmental manipulation. This article explores the genetic influences that may affect the individual's physiologic responses and the consequences of environmental stimuli.