Asthma attacks are a major global source of morbidity and cost. The incidence and impact of asthma attacks have not improved despite widespread adoption of effective universal treatment guidelines. Consequently, there is increasing interest in managing asthma based on specific assessments of both current symptoms and future risk. In this review, we consider ‘risk’ in asthma, and how it might be assessed from the patient's history and objective measurements. We also discuss the potential for encouraging shared decision-making and improving medical consensus through explicit communication of risk and highlight the potential opportunities and challenges in risk assessment to improve asthma management through individualised treatment strategies.