The majority of women living in rural areas in Turkey use biomass fuels for domestic energy and are exposed to high levels of indoor air pollution every day. The objective of this study was to compare the presence of chronic airway diseases (CAD) in two groups of nonsmoking women older than 40 years with (exposed group, n=397) and without a history of exposure to biomass cooking (liquid petroleum gas (LPG); control group, n=199), in 2002 in Kirikkale, Turkey. Detailed respiratory symptoms were collected with a standard questionnaire adapted from that of the British Medical Research Council. Exposure was calculated as the average hours spent daily for cooking multiplied by the number of years. CAD were defined as either chronic airway obstruction (CAO; (forced expiratory volume in 1s/forced vital capacity)<0.70), chronic bronchitis, or chronic bronchitis with CAO. The prevalence of CAD in the exposed group was found to be higher than that in the LPG group (28.5% vs. 13.6%, crude odds ratios (ORs) 2.5 (1.5--4.0), P=0.0001). The fraction of CAD attributed to exposure to biomass smoke after adjusting for possible confounding factors was 23.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 13.4--33.2). Acute symptoms during exposure to biomass smoke were important predictors for the presence of CAD. Biomass smoke pollution is an important contributing factor in the development of CAD in nonsmoking women living in a rural area. The presence of acute symptoms during cooking in women in rural areas should signal to general practitioners the possibility of CAD.