Lung function (FEV1 before and after bronchodilatation) was studied prospectively over five visits in 55 asthmatic children (28 boys) from childhood to adulthood (age 30). At the last follow-up recordings were made at rest, after cold air challenge (CACh), and after bronchodilatation. Results were related to clinical asthma scoring and to sensitization to furred animals, as described in a companion paper. Lung function outcome was shown to be influenced by initial FEV1 (% predicted) and gender, but not by initial asthma severity or sensitization. FEV1 (% predicted) was higher in females than in males over the first two follow-ups, but the reverse was found over the subsequent visits. It deteriorated from childhood to adulthood in the females but improved in the males. In adulthood the females (for height 170 cm) had a steeper normalized annual fall in post-bronchodilator FEV1 than the males (55 +/- 38 vs. 25 +/- 36 ml; P = 0.006). The degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness was associated significantly with asthma severity and the extent of sensitization to furred animals, but not with gender. The results indicate a better lung function outcome for asthmatic boys than for girls, confirming trends seen in clinical asthma severity. In adulthood the extent of sensitization to relevant perennial inhaled allergens significantly influences airway responsiveness and asthma severity, but not lung function.