In this paper, we have proposed a novel classification procedure for distinguishing between normal respiratory and abnormal respiratory sounds based on a maximum likelihood approach using hidden Markov models. We have assumed that each inspiratory/expiratory period consists of a time sequence of characteristic acoustic segments. The classification procedure detects the segment sequence with the highest likelihood and yields the classification result. We have proposed two elaborate acoustic modeling methods: one method is individual modeling for adventitious sound periods and for breath sound periods for the detection of abnormal respiratory sounds, and the other is a microphone-dependent modeling method for the detection of normal respiratory sounds. Classification experiments conducted using the former method revealed that this method demonstrated an increase of 19.1% in its recall rate of abnormal respiratory sounds as compared with the recall rate of a baseline method. It has also been revealed that the latter modeling method demonstrates an increase in its recall rate for the detection of not only normal respiratory sounds but also for abnormal respiratory sounds. These experimental results have confirmed the validity of our proposed classification procedure.