Pneumonia is an illness, usually caused by infection, in which the lungs become inflamed and congested, reducing oxygen exchange and leading to cough and breathlessness. It affects individuals of all ages but occurs most frequently in children and the elderly. Among children, pneumonia is the most common cause of death worldwide. Historically, in developed countries, deaths from pneumonia have been reduced by improvements in living conditions, air quality, and nutrition. In the developing world today, many deaths from pneumonia are also preventable by immunization or access to simple, effective treatments. However, as we highlight here, there are critical gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology, etiology, and pathophysiology of pneumonia that, if filled, could accelerate the control of pneumonia and reduce early childhood mortality.