Techniques for augmenting, when necessary, the normal mucociliary and cough clearance mechanisms of the lungs are not new, but, in more recent years, techniques have been developed which are effective, comfortable and can be used independent of an assistant in the majority of adolescents and adults. Postural drainage with chest clapping and chest shaking has, in most parts of the world, been replaced by the more effective techniques of the active cycle of breathing, autogenic drainage, R-C Cornet, Flutter, positive expiratory pressure mask, high-frequency chest wall oscillation and intrapulmonary percussive ventilation. Glossopharyngeal breathing is being considered again and is often a useful technique for increasing the effectiveness of cough in patients with tetraplegia or neuromuscular disorders. The evidence in support of these techniques is variable, and the literature is confusing and conflicting. There may or may not be significant differences among the techniques in the short or long term. Many of the regimens now include the forced expiratory manoeuvre of a "huff" and this has probably increased the effectiveness of airway clearance. If objective differences are small, individual preferences and cultural influences may be significant in increasing adherence to treatment and in the selection of an appropriate regimen or regimens for an individual patient.