It is widely accepted that compromised lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is, at least in part, a consequence of persistent airway inflammation caused by particles and noxious gases present in cigarette smoke and indoor air pollution from burning biomass fuel. Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that 80 million people have moderate or severe COPD worldwide. While there is a global need for effective medical treatment, current therapeutic interventions have shown limited success in preventing disease pathology and progression. This is, in large part, due to the complexity and heterogeneity of COPD, and an incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing inflammatory processes in individual patients. This review discusses recent discoveries related to the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-17A, and its potential role in the pathogenesis of COPD. We propose that an intervention strategy targeting IL-17 signalling offers an exciting opportunity to mitigate inflammatory processes, and prevent the progression of tissue pathologies associated with COPD.