Asthma and COPD are common respiratory diseases that are caused by the interaction of genetic susceptibility with environmental factors. Environmental influences are important in both diseases, and although there are differences in genetic susceptibilities, there are also similarities. Three examples of interest for both asthma and COPD patients are discussed. The first is the results of family studies, which have shown evidence for susceptibility loci for both asthma-related and COPD-related phenotypes in the same chromosomal region. Second, evidence for a gene-environment interaction with passive smoking for asthma patients compared with individual smoking for COPD patients will be covered. The third is an example of one candidate gene (interleukin-13), in which similar results have been observed for both asthma and COPD.