Clinical research in rare diseases, including alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), faces challenges not shared by common disease research. These challenges may include the limited number of patient volunteers available for research, lack of natural history studies on which to base many clinical trial interventions, an urgency for the development of drug therapies given the often poor prognosis of rare diseases and uncertainties about appropriate biomarkers and clinical outcomes critical to clinical trial design. To address these challenges and initiate formal discussions among key stakeholders-patients, researchers, industry, federal regulators-the Alpha-1 Foundation hosted the Clinical Trial Design for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: A Model for Rare Diseases conference February 3-4, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. Discussions at the conference led to the conclusions that 1) adaptive designs should be considered for rare disease clinical trials yet more dialogue and study is needed to make these designs feasible for smaller trials and to address current limitations; 2) natural history studies, including the identification of appropriate biomarkers are critically needed and precompetitive collaborations may offer a means of creating these costly studies; and 3) patient registries and databases within the rare disease community need to be more publicly available and integrated, particularly for AATD. This report summarizes the discussions leading to these conclusions.