Lung function was compared and reference standards were determined in 1,007 Polynesian, European, and Chinese teenagers attending school in Tahiti (517 boys, 490 girls; mean age, 14.4 years). Spirometric study results and maximal expiratory flow-volume curves were measured using techniques recommended by the American Thoracic Society. Age, standing height, and weight were chosen as the independent variables for males, and age and standing height for females. Regression equations constructed with logarithmically transformed dependent variables provided accurate predictions. We observed significant racial differences: in the Europeans, forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were higher than the mean values predicted for the whole study population, while forced expiratory flow during the middle half of the FVC (FEF25-75%) and maximal expiratory flows after 25, 50, and 75 percent of FVC had been exhaled (V max 25, 50, and 75, respectively) were about equal to the mean values; in the Polynesians, volumes and flows were mostly lower than the mean; in the Chinese, FVC in boys and girls, and FEV1 in girls only, were lower, while the other flows were higher. The FEV1/FVC, FEF25-75%/FVC, Vmax25/FVC, Vmax50/FVC, and Vmax75/FVC were significantly higher than the mean in the Chinese boys and girls and often lower in the Europeans.