The aim of the present study was to determine new reference values and predictive variables for dynamic and static pulmonary compliance in men. The investigation was conducted as a prospective study in healthy, non-smoking men with normal pulmonary function parameters including spirometry, bodyplethysmography and CO diffusing capacity. The esophageal pressure method was used to measure dynamic compliance (Cdyn), specific dynamic compliance (Cdyn/ITGV), static compliance (Cstat) and specific static compliance (Cstat/ITGV). Lung recoil pressures were recorded at different levels of total lung capacity (TLC). A total of 208 men aged 20-69 years were included in the study. The mean values for the compliance parameters were: Cdyn: 2.91+/-1.08 L/kPa; Cdyn/ITGV: 0.71 +/- 0.30 kPa (-1); Cstat: 3.34 +/- 1.04 L/kPa; Cstat/ITGV: 0.82 +/- 0.31 kPa (-1). Cdyn, Cdyn/ITGV and Cstat/ITGV were significantly correlated with age and Cstat was related to height, but in multiple regression analyses the predictability for compliance parameters was very low. Lung recoil pressures at all TLC levels significantly decreased with ageing. In conclusion, we demonstrated that the contribution of anthropometric variables to the regression equations of pulmonary compliance was low. With ageing the static pressure-volume curve of the lung shifted to the left without substantial alteration of the slope.