Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is characterised by acute hypoxaemic respiratory failure with bilateral infiltrates on chest imaging, which is not fully explained by cardiac failure or fluid overload. ARDS is defined by the Berlin criteria. In this Series paper the diagnosis, management, outcomes, and long-term sequelae of ARDS are reviewed. Potential limitations of the ARDS definition and evidence that could inform future revisions are considered. Guideline recommendations, evidence, and uncertainties in relation to ARDS management are discussed. The future of ARDS strives towards a precision medicine approach, and the framework of treatable traits in ARDS diagnosis and management is explored.