Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that commonly affects the terminal ileum and proximal colon. Although systemic corticosteroids such as prednisone and methylprednisolone are widely used for treatment of CD, these agents have a high incidence of adverse drug reactions due to off-target effects. Budesonide is a locally acting corticosteroid with enhanced formulation properties that offer a superior therapeutic index in comparison to conventional members of the class. Areas covered: This review focuses on budesonide for the treatment of CD. The pharmacological and pharmacokinetics of the drug are summarized, along with clinical efficacy and safety data. We also indicate the role of budesonide in therapeutic algorithms. Expert opinion: Budesonide has an important role as an induction therapy in patients with mild to moderately active CD of the ileum and proximal colon. The most distinctive advantage of budesonide over conventional corticosteroids is a substantially reduced risk of corticosteroid-related side effects.