Chronic lung disease was studied among cotton textile workers. White male and female cotton workers, aged 45 and older, were questioned about respiratory symptoms. The duration of employment was recorded. Retired workers were included in the study population and all were identified by occupation as carders, spinners, yarn preparers, weavers, or employed in other jobs. A comparison group was taken from white residents of towns without cotton mills after excluding those with respiratory symptoms. Maximum expiratory flow volume curves were recorded for subjects and comparisons. Smoking habits were determined for all. Textile workers of both sexes, irrespective of age, had excess chronic cough, wheezing, dyspnea and other symptoms when compared with the references group. Symptom prevalence did not differ significantly between job categories. Smoking was an additional significant variable for all symptoms except dyspnea. There were observed decrements of lung function among the textile workers. The excess risk of loss of lung function was seen in workers in yarn preparing, weaving, carding, and spinning, but not in the other more dust free jobs. In all smoking categories textile workers had more impaired lung function than comparisons. Retired men has a significantly greater loss of lung function than those still working. The authors conclude that cotton workers are at risk of having chronic respiratory symptoms and lung function loss as well as the acute symptoms identified as byssinosis.