The drywall construction trade has in the past been associated with exposure to airborne asbestos fibres. This paper reports a drywall construction worker with 32 years of dust exposure who developed dyspnoea and diminished diffusing capacity, and showed diffuse irregular opacities on chest radiography. He did not respond to treatment with corticosteroids. Open lung biopsy examination showed desquamative interstitial pneumonia. Only a single ferruginous body was seen on frozen section, but tissue examination by electron microscopy showed an extraordinary pulmonary burden of mineral dust with especially high concentrations of chrysotile asbestos fibres. This report emphasises the need to consider asbestos fibre as an agent in the aetiology of desquamative interstitial pneumonia. The coexistent slight interstitial fibrosis present in this case is also considered to have resulted from exposure to mineral dust, particularly ultramicroscopic asbestos fibres.