The theme of the review will be to discuss those environmental assaults that impair alveolar macrophage activities. The paper is not intended to completely review all available data on every chemical tested nor will it provide dose-response data. Instead, it is an attempt to provide the reader with a selective, but representative, overview of major advances in the field. An extensive bibliography is included which will guide the reader to additional information on the subject. The objective of the review is to assess the current approaches and techniques for studying the effects of environmental chemicals on alveolar macrophages by illustrating the effects and chemical compounds that have been studied and relating the observed changes to the potential health risk of the host.