Diving has shown long-term effects on respiratory function in trained professional divers, indicating the development of small airways disease. The results are more controversial in trained recreational divers because of the different degrees of exposure and training. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of recreational diving on respiratory function in highly experienced divers. Volumes and expiratory flow rates were measured in 32 older recreational divers (51.6 +/- 7.4 years). The forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) were higher (+ 4.9 % and + 6 %, respectively; p < 0.01) than the theoretical standards (ERS 93). These values tended to decrease more rapidly as the age advanced (age range: 43 - 73 years) (p < 0.05). Moreover, the mid-expiratory flows at 50 %, 25 % and 25 - 75 % of vital capacity (MEF(50 %), MEF(25 %) and MEF(25 - 75 %)) were significantly decreased. These early signs of decrease suggest slight small airways disease in older experienced recreational divers.