In industrialized countries respiratory tract infections are one of the most common reasons for medical consultations. It is assumed that almost one third of these infections affect the lower respiratory tract (LRTI), e. g. acute bronchitis, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), community- or hospital-acquired pneumonia and influenza. Due to a lack of sufficient and valid investigations on the epidemiology of respiratory viruses, their impact on the pathogenesis of LRTI has probably been underestimated for a long time. Therefore, there might have been many cases of needless antibiotic treatment, particularly in cases of acute bronchitis or acute exacerbations of COPD, because of an assumed bacteriological aetiology. Following the introduction of diagnostic procedures with increased sensitivity, such as polymerase chain reaction, it is possible to reliably detect respiratory viruses and to illuminate their role in the pathogenesis of LRTI of the adult. We have reviewed the current literature to elucidate the role of viruses in the pathogenesis of LRTI. The first part of this series described frequent viral pathogens, pathogenesis of viral LRTI, and diagnostic procedures. In this 2 (nd) part the aetiological role of viruses in the most frequent forms of LRTI will be highlighted, and the third and last part will provide an overview of therapeutic and preventive options.