The aims were to examine the effects of scoliosis (angle), and age on lung volumes, elastic properties of the respiratory system, and the ventilatory response to CO2. The mean age of the 55 patients was 25.4 plus or minus SEM 2.5 yr, and the mean angle was 80 plus or minus SEM 4.2. The mean plus or minus SEM percent predicted lung volumes were vital capacity (VC), 60.5 plus or minus 2.7; total lung capacity (TLC), 70,2 plus or minus 2.6; functional residual capacity (frc), 79.3 plus or minus 3.2; and residual volume (RV), 99.7 plus or minus 5.2. The correlation coefficients between the angle of scoliosis and each of the following were significant: TLC (-0.548), percent predicted TLC (-0.547), VC (-0.485), percent predicted VC (-0.523), FRC (-0.533), percent predicted FRC (-0.338), RV (-0.438), and percent predicted RV (-0.318). The mean compliance of the total respiratory system (Crs) was 0.049 litter/cm H2O plus or minus SEM 0.004, and the mean compliance of the chest wall (Ccw) was 0.080 liter/cm H2O plus or minus SEM 0.012. The Crs and Ccw were inversely proportional to the angle (r-0.620 and -0.721) and directly proportional to the height and the weight. The mean deltaV/deltaPco2 was 1.32 liter/min per mm Hg (SEM 0.171), and the mean deltaVt/deltaPco2 was 28.9 ml/mm Hg (SEM 3.64). The correlation coefficients between deltaV/deltaPco2 and the following were height, 0.499; VC, 0.792; TLC, 0.632; AND Crs, 0.520; and between the deltaTt/deltaPco2 and the following were height, 0.500; VC, 0.878; TLC, 0.802; and Crs, 0.590. We conclude that body size and the deformity were the determinants of the lung volumes and the mechanical properties of the respiratory system, and that these variables were the major factors in both the magnitude and pattern of the ventilatory response to CO2. The correlations between age and the mechanical properties of the respiratory sytem, deltaV/deltaPco2, and deltaVt/deltaPco2, were not significant, but the correlation coefficients between age and several of the derivatives of deltaV/deltaPco2 and deltaVt/deltaPco2 were significant.