To evaluate the association between growth in height and growth in lung function, and to identify the potential temporal relationships between airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), respiratory symptoms, and lung function growth during adolescence and young adulthood, we analyzed data collected from the Belmont cohort. Among the 718 schoolchildren initially studied at 1982 (aged 8-10 yr), 557 were studied between two times and six times at 2-yr intervals until 1992. Baseline lung function, AHR by histamine inhalation test, and recent wheeze by questionnaires, were measured at each visit. We found that between 17 and 19 yr of age, when growth in height had stopped, growth in FEV(1) was approximately 200 ml/yr in boys and 100 ml/yr in girls. Peak growth velocity of height occurred at age 13 both in boys and in girls, whereas peak growth velocity of FEV(1) occurred at the same age only in girls and 1 yr later in boys. Having AHR and recent wheeze at the previous study time were both associated with lower subsequent growth in FEV(1), but not with subsequent growth in FVC. We conclude that lung function continues to grow after the cessation of height growth and that growth in FEV(1) is reduced in subjects with AHR and/or recent wheeze.