Epidemiologic research has revealed a substantial portion of the general population with abnormal spirometry results that are characterized by decreased FEV1 and FVC but a preserved FEV1/FVC ratio. This restrictive spirometry pattern (RSP) is inconsistently defined in the literature and not well addressed by current guidelines; there is an accumulating body of evidence, however, that RSP is prevalent to a similar degree as airflow obstruction. Genetic and other risk factors for RSP, such as inhalational injuries and early life exposures, continue to be actively described. Although it seems that RSP is closely associated with the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and systemic inflammation, it is not a simple marker of obesity. RSP is associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes, as well as mortality, and it may be an underappreciated cause of functional impairments and respiratory symptoms. Improvement in outcomes in this population will require that clinicians have an appreciation for the significance of this spirometry pattern; additional research into the clinical and radiologic phenotype of these subjects is also needed. This article provides an overview of the recent developments in our understanding of this prevalent and highly morbid spirometry pattern.