Pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is an idiopathic condition affecting predominantly adult smokers. Histologically, LCH is characterized by a nodular, interstitial proliferation of Langerhans cells around the distal airways with associated eosinophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages. Associated findings, such as fibrosis, emphysematous change, and bronchiolitis can be reminiscent of other interstitial lung diseases. The markers CD1a and S100 have traditionally been used to distinguish LCH from other processes. Little is known about expression of the Langerhans cell-specific lectin, langerin, in pulmonary diseases. We examined the expression patterns of S100, CD1a, and langerin in LCH and other interstitial, inflammatory, and infectious processes in cases retrieved from the files at Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Pathology. Immunoreactivity was scored according to the number of cells staining per high power field (400x) in areas of highest density, averaged over 4 fields. Cases diagnosed as LCH based on histomorphology and positive CD1a and S100 staining demonstrated strong langerin positivity in lesional tissue. All cases of LCH contained greater than 30 langerin and CD1a positive cells per high power field (HPF), with a mean of >100 cells per HPF, in lesional tissue. Of the other interstitial processes examined, only usual interstitial pneumonia demonstrated increased number of Langerhans cells within epithelium and interstitium (mean 14 cells per HPF) as compared with normal lung (mean 6 cells per HPF). Langerin and CD1a serve as specific diagnostic markers in distinguishing LCH from other interstitial and inflammatory processes.