Accumulating evidence suggests that dietary antioxidant vitamins are positively associated with lung function. No evidence exists regarding whether dietary carotenoids other than beta-carotene are related to pulmonary function. In 1995--1998 the authors studied the association of forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity as the percentage of the predicted value (FEV(1)% and FVC%, respectively) after adjustment for height, age, gender, and race with the intakes of several carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, and lycopene) in a random sample of 1,616 men and women who were residents of western New York State, aged 35--79 years, and free from respiratory disease. They observed significant associations of lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamins C and E with FEV(1)% and FVC% using multiple linear regression after adjustment for total energy intake, smoking, and other covariates. When they analyzed all of these antioxidant vitamins simultaneously, they observed the strongest association of vitamin E with FEV(1)% and of lutein/zeaxanthin with FVC%. The differences in forced expiratory volume in 1 second and forced vital capacity associated with a decrease of 1 standard deviation of dietary vitamin E or lutein/zeaxanthin were equivalent to the influence of approximately 1--2 years of aging. Their findings support the hypothesis that carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E may play a role in respiratory health and that carotenoids other than beta-carotene may be involved.