Poor respiratory function and obesity are associated with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. Obese persons may also have impaired lung function, but the mechanism is unclear. The authors investigated the relation between abdominal pattern of obesity and respiratory function in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk) cohort in Norfolk, United Kingdom. This analysis included 9,674 men and 11,876 women aged 45-79 years with no known preexisting serious illness who had complete anthropometric and respiratory function measures obtained at a health visit between 1993 and 1997. Waist:hip ratio was used to assess abdominal obesity, and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC), obtained by spirometry, were used to assess respiratory function. Both FEV1 and FVC were linearly and inversely related across the entire range of waist:hip ratio in both men and women. This relation persisted after adjustment for age, body mass index, cigarette smoking, social class, physical activity index, prevalent bronchitis/emphysema, and prevalent asthma. The association remained significant among nonobese nonsmokers without preexisting respiratory disease. In the general adult population, abdominal fat deposition may play a role in the impairment of respiratory function among the abdominally obese.