The 2nd Cross Company Respiratory Symposium (CCRS), held in Horsham, U.K. in 2012, brought together representatives from across the pharmaceutical industry with expert academics, in the common interest of improving the design and translational predictiveness of in vivo models of respiratory disease. Organized by the respiratory representatives of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Federations (EFPIA) group of companies involved in the EU-funded project (U-BIOPRED), the aim of the symposium was to identify state-of-the-art improvements in the utility and design of models of respiratory disease, with a view to improving their translational potential and reducing wasteful animal usage. The respiratory research and development community is responding to the challenge of improving translation in several ways: greater collaboration and open sharing of data, careful selection of the species, complexity and chronicity of the models, improved practices in preclinical research, continued refinement in models of respiratory diseases and their sub-types, greater understanding of the biology underlying human respiratory diseases and their sub-types, and finally greater use of human (and especially disease-relevant) cells, tissues and explants. The present review highlights these initiatives, combining lessons from the symposium and papers published in Clinical Science arising from the symposium, with critiques of the models currently used in the settings of asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and COPD. The ultimate hope is that this will contribute to a more rational, efficient and sustainable development of a range of new treatments for respiratory diseases that continue to cause substantial morbidity and mortality across the world.