Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. CAP mortality is driven by the development of sepsis and acute respiratory failure (ARF). We performed a systematic review of the available English literature published in the period 1 January 1997 to 31 August 2017 and focused on ARF in CAP. The database searches identified 189 articles-of these, only 29 were retained for data extraction. Of these 29 articles, 12 addressed ARF in CAP without discussing its ventilatory management, while 17 evaluated the ventilatory management of ARF in CAP. In the studies assessing the ventilatory management, the specific treatments addressed were: high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) (n = 1), continuous positive airway pressure (n = 2), non-invasive ventilation (n = 9), and invasive mechanical ventilation (n = 5). When analyzed, non-invasive ventilation (NIV) success rates ranged from 20% to 76% and they strongly predicted survival, while NIV failure led to an increased risk of adverse outcome. In conclusion, ARF in CAP patients may require both ventilatory and non-ventilatory management. Further research is needed to better evaluate the use of NIV and HFNC in those patients. Alongside the prompt administration of antimicrobials, the potential use of steroids and the implementation of severity scores should also be considered.