Identifying subtypes of acute respiratory failure survivors may facilitate patient selection for post-intensive care unit (ICU) follow-up clinics and trials.We conducted a single-centre prospective cohort study of 185 acute respiratory failure survivors, aged ≥65 years. We applied latent class modelling to identify frailty subtypes using frailty phenotype and cognitive impairment measurements made during the week before hospital discharge. We used Fine-Gray competing risks survival regression to test associations between frailty subtypes and recovery, defined as returning to a basic Activities of Daily Living disability count less than or equal to the pre-hospitalisation count within 6 months. We characterised subtypes by pre-ICU frailty (Clinical Frailty Scale score ≥5), the post-ICU frailty phenotype, and serum inflammatory cytokines, hormones and exosome proteomics during the week before hospital discharge.We identified five frailty subtypes. The recovery rate decreased 49% across each subtype independent of age, sex, pre-existing disability, comorbidity and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (recovery rate ratio: 0.51, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.63). Post-ICU frailty phenotype prevalence increased across subtypes, but pre-ICU frailty prevalence did not. In the subtype with the slowest recovery, all had cognitive impairment. The three subtypes with the slowest recovery had higher interleukin-6 levels (p=0.03) and a higher prevalence of ≥2 deficiencies in insulin growth factor-1, dehydroepiandrostersone-sulfate, or free-testosterone (p=0.02). Exosome proteomics revealed impaired innate immunity in subtypes with slower recovery.Frailty subtypes varied by prehospitalisation frailty and cognitive impairment at hospital discharge. Subtypes with the slowest recovery were similarly characterised by greater systemic inflammation and more anabolic hormone deficiencies at hospital discharge.