We examined growth of spirometric lung function in 696 children of European ancestry who were followed from ages 9 to 15 years and stratified according to their degree of responsiveness to methacholine inhalation challenge, atopic status, and respiratory symptoms. Subjects were participants in the longitudinal Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in Dunedin, New Zealand. Forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1), and vital capacity (VC) were measured at 9, 11, 13, and 15 years of age, concurrently with assessment of airway responsiveness determined by the concentration of methacholine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20 FEV1). Atopic status was assessed at age 13 by skin-prick testing to 11 allergens. In children demonstrating airway hyperresponsiveness, FEV1 increased with age at a slower rate, and the FEV1/VC ratio had a faster rate of decline through childhood, compared to non-responsive children. Subjects with positive skin tests to house dust mite and cat dander also had lower mean FEV1/VC ratios than the control group. Any reported wheezing was associated with slower growth of FEV1 and VC in males. We conclude that in New Zealand children with airway responsiveness and/or atopy to house dust mite or cat growth of spirometric lung function is impaired.