Pulmonary infections are the commonest type of illnesses seen in everyday practice. Although most infections are caused by a few familiar pathogens, an increase in global travel has led to the occurrence of rare and exotic diseases that often do not manifest until after the traveller returns home. Previously innocuous organisms may also be the cause of exotic infections in patients undergoing transplantation, or very aggressive immunosupression. Such treatment regimes may reactivate quiescent organisms acquired years previously, for example melioidosis and strongyloides stercoralis. In most developed countries there is also an increasing incidence of zoonotic infections, with a number of these presenting with mainly pulmonary symptoms. A carefully taken history of recent travel, exposure to wild or domestic animals or the presence of immunosuppression, is extremely helpful in identifying problematic infections that fall into the realm of the exotic. This review discusses some of the respiratory infections in each of these groups with an emphasis on imported infections.