The pulmonary collectins surfactant protein (SP)-A and SP-D play important roles in innate lung defense, enhancing opsonization of microbes and limiting lung inflammatory responses. To quantify relationships among collectins, bacteria, and inflammation in early cystic fibrosis (CF) airway secretions, bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BALFs) were collected from children undergoing clinically indicated bronchoscopy. Quantitative bacteriology, differential cell counts, and ELISA for SP-A and SP-D were assessed. Significantly increased numbers of neutrophils relative to bacteria were noted in BALF from CF compared with non-CF subjects. Although SP-A levels tended to be lower in CF compared with non-CF, this was only significant in the presence of bacterial infection. Among CF patients, SP-A concentrations in BALF were inversely related to inflammation, bacterial colony-forming units per milliliter, and age. SP-D levels were significantly decreased in CF patients, and SP-D was rarely detectable in the presence of infection. Among CF patients, SP-D correlated inversely with inflammation and bacterial colony-forming units per milliliter, and there was decreased immunostaining of BALF cells for SP-D in CF. Immunohistochemistry of CF autopsy lung sections for SP-A and SP-D confirmed their paucity at sites of infection and inflammation. We conclude that relative collectin deficiency occurs early in CF airways and is inversely related to inflammation in CF airways.