The purpose of the present study was to determine the strain-specific phenotype variance of lung function parameters among common inbred laboratory mouse strains. In accordance with the "Mouse Phenome Project" run by The Jackson Laboratory (http://www.jax.org/phenome), lung volumes, lung mechanics, and diffusing capacity of 16 males and 16 females of the strains C3H/HeJ, BALB/cByJ, C57B1/6J, A/J, FVB/J, 129SV/ImJ, and SWR/J were determined in a standardized manner. The defined respiratory maneuvers for lung function testing were performed with a custom-made, computer-controlled servo-ventilator in anesthetized animals. Sex differences within the strains were found in most (83%) of the absolute lung function parameters. Usually, normalization to body or lung size completely compensates for the observed gender differences. There was great diversity between strains for all of the lung function parameters studied; for example, the total lung capacity as well as the pulmonary diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide varied by 50% and the static lung compliance by a factor of almost two among the strains. Little, but statistically significant variability was detectable for the dead space volume and the respiratory system resistance. There was no clear-cut evidence for any strain exhibiting either the smallest or the largest values for all parameters studied, suggesting that there were no simple allometric relationships of lung size between the strains. Well-established genealogical relationships among strains were not constantly reflected in phenotype similarities of pulmonary function. Therefore, these data strongly support heritable genetic traits for pulmonary function. Moreover, it constitutes a basis for further genetic lung function-related studies.