Stereology is the method of choice for the quantitative assessment of biological objects in microscopy. It takes into account the fact that, in traditional microscopy such as conventional light and transmission electron microscopy, although one has to rely on measurements on nearly two-dimensional sections from fixed and embedded tissue samples, the quantitative data obtained by these measurements should characterize the real three-dimensional properties of the biological objects and not just their "flatland" appearance on the sections. Thus, three-dimensionality is a built-in property of stereological sampling and measurement tools. Stereology is, therefore, perfectly suited to be combined with 3D imaging techniques which cover a wide range of complementary sample sizes and resolutions, e.g. micro-computed tomography, confocal microscopy and volume electron microscopy. Here, we review those stereological principles that are of particular relevance for 3D imaging and provide an overview of applications of 3D imaging-based stereology to the lung in health and disease. The symbiosis of stereology and 3D imaging thus provides the unique opportunity for unbiased and comprehensive quantitative characterization of the three-dimensional architecture of the lung from macro to nano scale.