Over the past 20 years, the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has regularly published and annually updated a global strategy for asthma management and prevention that has formed the basis for many national guidelines. However, uptake of existing guidelines is poor. A major revision of the GINA report was published in 2014, and updated in 2015, reflecting an evolving understanding of heterogeneous airways disease, a broader evidence base, increasing interest in targeted treatment, and evidence about effective implementation approaches. During development of the report, the clinical utility of recommendations and strategies for their practical implementation were considered in parallel with the scientific evidence.This article provides a summary of key changes in the GINA report, and their rationale. The changes include a revised asthma definition; tools for assessing symptom control and risk factors for adverse outcomes; expanded indications for inhaled corticosteroid therapy; a framework for targeted treatment based on phenotype, modifiable risk factors, patient preference, and practical issues; optimisation of medication effectiveness by addressing inhaler technique and adherence; revised recommendations about written asthma action plans; diagnosis and initial treatment of the asthma-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap syndrome; diagnosis in wheezing pre-school children; and updated strategies for adaptation and implementation of GINA recommendations.