A study of respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function in chicken catchers in poultry confinement units was conducted. The cohort consisted of 53 male chicken catchers and six loader operators at two North Carolina poultry processing facilities. Questionnaire and pulmonary function data were compared with reference standards derived from nonexposed North Carolina blue collar workers. Breathing zone samples were collected and analyzed for inhalable and respirable dust and ammonia (7664417). The endotoxin content of the dust samples was determined. Fifty one subjects complained of at least one acute respiratory symptom associated with work in poultry houses. Rhinitis was the most frequently reported symptom. Other symptoms included cough, eye irritation, sneezing, wheezing, dyspnea, nausea, throat irritation, chest tightness, and fever. Significantly elevated excesses of chronic respiratory symptoms were reported. Postshift forced vital capacity (FVC), 1 second forced expiratory volume (FEV1), and the FEV1/FVC ratio were significantly decreased. Approximately 26% of the subjects had FEV1 decreases greater than 5% and 10% had FEV1 decreases greater than 10%. Preshift FVC values were significantly decreased relative to the reference standard. The prevalence of chronic symptoms was higher in chicken catchers having more than 5 years work exposure than in those with less than 5 years exposure. The geometric mean time weighted average (TWA) inhalable and respirable dust concentrations were 20.2 and 1.8mg/m3, respectively. The geometric mean TWA bacterial endotoxin concentration was 250 nanograms/cubic meter. The geometric mean TWA ammonia concentration was 6 parts per million. The authors conclude that the chicken catchers are at risk for respiratory dysfunction. The elevated concentrations of organic dust and endotoxins present an acute health hazard and should be reduced.