Recent advances in technology and better understanding of mechanisms underlying disease are beginning to enable us to better characterize critically ill patients. Instead of using nonspecific syndromic groupings, such as sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome, we can now classify individual patients according to various specific characteristics, such as immune status. This "personalized" medicine approach will enable us to distinguish patients who have similar clinical presentations but different cellular and molecular responses that will influence their need for and responses (both negative and positive) to specific treatments. Treatments will be able to be chosen more accurately for each patient, resulting in more rapid institution of appropriate, effective therapy. We will also increasingly be able to conduct trials in groups of patients specifically selected as being most likely to respond to the intervention in question. This has already begun with, for example, some new interventions being tested only in patients with coagulopathy or immunosuppressive patterns. Ultimately, as we embrace this era of precision medicine, we may be able to offer precision therapies specifically designed to target the molecular set-up of an individual patient, as has begun to be done in cancer therapeutics.