The aim of our study was to measure values of maximal inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory (MEP) mouth pressures in 625 (266 male, 359 female) clinically and functionally normal subjects drawn out of a sample representative of the general population. MEP (near TLC and FRC) was found to be significantly higher when compared with MIP (near RV and FRC), and pressures in male subjects were significantly higher than those in female subjects. MEP values at TLC and FRC were found to be closely related, as were values of MIP near RV and near FRC. Among the tested body-size variables, body surface area (BSA) for all parameters had the highest degree of correlation. Stepwise linear regression analysis was performed to define the equation of normality for all four parameters, employing BSA, sex, age, and relative interaction terms. R2 values, although the variables employed for the equations were highly significant, were relatively low and didn't fully explain the source of variability. The influence of age was smaller than the influence of BSA, although age did reduce the unexplained variance in MEP and MIP. These results confirm that the most useful employment of MIP and MEP is to monitor their changes in each patient, but they point out, however, the usefulness of reliable reference equations.