Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a rare, inflammatory disease with multisystem involvement and it should be considered in the aetiology of sudden respiratory distress. A 49-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency service of Osmangazi Hospital in acute respiratory distress. She had a tracheostomy following a diagnosis of laryngeal stenosis 10 years earlier. She was managed thereafter at another hospital with a diagnosis of asthma. At admission she was in respiratory distress, had arthralgias, bilateral subconjunctival hyperaemia, periorbital oedema and skin lesions. A thoracic CT showed tracheal wall thickening. Calcification of the auricular regions were noted bilaterally. Bronchi, conjunctiva and skin lesions were biopsied with a provisional diagnosis of RP The diagnosis of RP in this patient was based on clinical, pathological and radiological findings. Steroid therapy was begun and she was referred to a surgical centre for stenting. This case report emphasizes the need to consider the possibility of RP as a cause of sudden respiratory distress.