Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a chronic and progressive autosomal recessive disorder of secretory epithelial cells, which causes obstructions in the lung airways and pancreatic ducts of 70,000 people worldwide (for recent review see Cutting Nat Rev Genet 16(1):45-56, 2015). The finding that mutations in the CFTR gene cause CF (Kerem et al. Science 245(4922):1073-1080, 1989; Riordan et al. Science 245(4922):1066-1073, 1989; Rommens et al. Science 245(4922):1059-1065, 1989), was hailed as the very happy middle of a story whose end is a cure for a fatal disease (Koshland Science 245(4922):1029, 1989). However, despite two licensed drugs (Ramsey et al. N Engl J Med 365(18):1663-1672, 2011; Wainwright et al. N Engl J Med 373(3):220-231, 2015), and a formal demonstration that repeated administration of CFTR cDNA to patients is safe and effects a modest but significant stabilisation of disease (Alton et al. Lancet Respir Med 3(9):684-691, 2015), we are still a long way from a cure, with many patients taking over 100 tablets per day, and a mean age at death of 28 years. The aim of this review is to discuss the impact on the study of CF of gene-editing techniques as they have developed over the last 30 years, up to and including the possibility of editing as a therapeutic approach.