Mechanical ventilation is the second most frequently performed therapeutic intervention after treatment for cardiac arrhythmias in intensive care units today. Countless lives have been saved with its use despite being associated with a greater than 30% in-hospital mortality rate. As life expectancies increase and people with chronic illnesses survive longer, artificial support with mechanical ventilation is also expected to rise. In one survey, over half of senior internal medicine residents reported their training on mechanical ventilation as inadequate, whereas the majority of critical care nurses reported having received no formal education on its use. Technological advances resulting in the availability of sleeker ventilators with graphic waveform displays and new modes of ventilation have challenged the bedside clinicians to incorporate this new data along with evidenced-based research into their daily practice. A review of current thoughts on mechanical ventilation and weaning is presented.