OBJECTIVE--A study was performed to produce reference standards for spirometric lung function in white children and to calculate standard deviation scores adjusted for gender and pubertal stage. METHODS--A cross sectional study was made of 772 white children aged 4.6 to 18.8 years (455 male) tested on an OHIO 840 spirometer and assessed anthropometrically and pubertally. RESULTS--Before puberty there was a linear increase in all lung function measurements with height. During puberty a sudden increase occurred, but subsequently the relationship was again linear. No simple single equation described this pattern. Advanced puberty in younger children conferred a respiratory advantage, whilst delayed puberty resulted in the converse. Girls had poorer volumes per unit height, but young girls had superior airflow/unit lung volume. In both sexes lung volumes and flows bore a constant relationship to external thoracic dimensions. CONCLUSIONS--Puberty has a dramatic effect on lung function. Regression equations for predicted values of lung function measurements and for calculation of standard deviation scores are given (with pubertal correction factors) for each gender.