We studied 110 children (59 boys and 51 girls, who were 10 yr of age at enrollment and 15 yr of age at follow-up) who had moved from communities participating in a 10-yr prospective study of respiratory health (The Children's Health Study [CHS]) to determine whether changes in air quality caused by relocation were associated with changes in annual lung function growth rates. The subjects were given health questionnaires and underwent spirometry in their homes across six western states, according to a protocol identical to evaluations performed annually on the CHS cohort in school. Changes in annual average exposure to particulate matter with a mean diameter of 10 microm (PM(10)) were associated with differences in annual lung function growth rates for FEV(1), maximal midexpiratory flow, and peak expiratory flow rate. As a group, subjects who had moved to areas of lower PM(10) showed increased growth in lung function and subjects who moved to communities with a higher PM(10) showed decreased growth in lung function. A stronger trend was found for subjects who had migrated at least 3 yr before the follow-up visit than for those who had moved in the previous 1 to 2 yr. We conclude that changes in air pollution exposure during adolescent growth years have a measurable and potentially important effect on lung function growth and performance.