This study aimed to investigate whether there was a difference in outcome related to histologic pattern in cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis (CFA) and to see whether there were correlations between clinical and radiologic findings and histology. One hundred thirteen lung biopsies from consecutive patients taken for the diagnosis of diffuse lung disease were reviewed and reclassified using the Katzenstein and Myers criteria for interstitial pneumonias. Patients lacking full investigational data at presentation and those with conditions predisposing to lung fibrosis were excluded, leaving 15 patients diagnosed with nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) and 15 with usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP). Clinical and radiologic findings at presentation and serial lung function information and survival status in November 1998 were compared for the two groups. Survival was found to be significantly greater in the NSIP group compared with the UIP group (p < 0.001). This could not be explained by differences in treatment. Patients with UIP showed a progressive deterioration in lung function whereas those with NSIP remained stable. CT scans of patients with UIP showed more fibrosis than those of patients with NSIP (p < 0.011). A histologic diagnosis of NSIP is associated with a better prognosis than UIP. This subclassification of CFA is clinically useful.