Techniques used for detecting early stages of pneumoconioses and the pathogenesis of dust related lung diseases were discussed. Recent human and experimental studies have revealed that lung fibrosis resulting from inhaled mineral dusts are the end stage of a long chronic inflammatory process initiated by the retention of biologically active mineral particles in lung tissue. Strategies for detecting the early stages of asbestosis, silicosis, and other mineral dust induced lung diseases were discussed. These included investigating auscultatory rales, chest X-rays, computed tomography of the thorax, gallium-67 (Ga67) scans of the lungs, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and pulmonary function testing. Rales were the initial finding in fewer than 5% of workers with asbestosis and are usually absent in those with silicosis. Standard posterior/anterior chest X-rays are regarded as the standard technique for detecting mineral dust pneumoconioses. It was noted, however, that chest X- rays have been noted to be normal in up to 10% of those with symptomatic interstitial lung disease. Clinical and epidemiological studies have revealed that computed tomographic scans of the chest, pulmonary Ga67 scans, BAL, and lung pressure volume curves constructed from spirometric measurements can detect asbestotic or silicotic lesions that do not appear on chest X-rays. The authors conclude that computed tomography of the chest, BAL, Ga67 lung scans, and lung pressure volume curves can detect early inflammatory lesions of mineral dust pneumoconiosis before they progress into fibrosis.