The relation of respiratory symptoms and lung function has not been extensively investigated. To determine better the rate of FEV1 decline in subjects reporting persistent wheeze, chronic cough, chronic phlegm, and/or dyspnea, longitudinal data from an adult population sample of 3,948 subjects (1,757 men; 2,191 women) followed for 12 yr were analyzed. At the initial and subsequent follow-up visits, subjects completed a standardized respiratory questionnaire and performed spirometry using the same methods and spirometers. Subjects were categorized based on the presence or absence of self-reported respiratory symptoms (persistent wheeze, chronic cough, chronic phlegm, or shortness of breath) at the initial visit. Six-specific linear regression models were fitted to determine the effect of these respiratory symptoms on lung function. In both men and women, reporting of any respiratory symptoms was associated with both a reduction in initial lung function and more rapid decline in height-adjusted FEV1. Furthermore, after adjustment for height, age, and cigarette smoking, men with cough or phlegm and women with cough alone showed accelerated loss in FEV1. Clinicians should be aware of the predictive value of these respiratory symptoms, because therapeutic intervention may modify the associated decline in lung function.