Hypoventilation can be caused by diseases of the chest wall. Any anatomical or functional abnormality of the bony thorax increases dead space ventilation and the work of breathing, whether congenital or acquired, acute or chronic, and whether its cause is infectious, traumatic, environmental, iatrogenic, or unknown. In this article, we discuss these heterogeneous disorders from the viewpoint of the practicing nonpediatric pulmonary physician, only briefly touching on surgical, pediatric, rheumatologic, and other nonpulmonary ramifications. Emphasis is on the most common and the best researched forms of chest wall restriction, including kyphoscoliosis, fibrothorax, thoracoplasty, flail chest, and ankylosing spondylitis. Other diseases such as osteoporosis with its less well known pulmonary effects, and some rarely seen entities, are briefly discussed.