Investigators believe most patients with asthma have reversible airflow obstruction with treatment, despite airway remodeling and hyperresponsiveness. There are smokers with chronic expiratory airflow obstruction despite treatment who have features of both asthma and COPD. Some investigators refer to this conundrum as the asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). Furthermore, a subset of treated nonsmokers with moderate to severe asthma have persistent expiratory airflow limitation, despite partial reversibility. This residuum has been assumed to be due to large and especially small airway remodeling. Alternatively, we and others have described reversible loss of lung elastic recoil in acute and persistent loss in patients with moderate to severe chronic asthma who never smoked and its adverse effect on maximal expiratory airflow. The mechanism(s) responsible for loss of lung elastic recoil and persistent expiratory airflow limitation in nonsmokers with chronic asthma consistent with ACOS remain unknown in the absence of structure-function studies. Recently we reported a new pathophysiologic observation in 10 treated never smokers with asthma with persistent expiratory airflow obstruction, despite partial reversibility: All 10 patients with asthma had a significant decrease in lung elastic recoil, and unsuspected, microscopic mild centrilobular emphysema was noted in all three autopsies obtained although it was not easily identified on lung CT scan. These sentinel pathophysiologic observations need to be confirmed to further unravel the epiphenomenon of ACOS. The proinflammatory and proteolytic mechanism(s) leading to lung tissue breakdown need to be further investigated.