The present cross-sectional, population-based study was designed to evaluate the performance of the FEV1/FEV6 ratio for the detection of airway-obstructed subjects compared to the FEV1/FVC <0.70 fixed ratio test, as well as the lower limit of normality (LLN) for 1000 subjects (3)40 years of age in the metropolitan area of São Paulo, SP, Brazil. After the exclusion of 37 (3.7%) spirometries, a total of 963 pre-bronchodilator (BD) and 918 post-BD curves were constructed. The majority of the post-BD curves (93.1%) were of very good quality and achieved grade A (762 curves) or B (93 curves). The FEV1/FEV6 and FEV1/FVC ratios were highly correlated (r(2) = 0.92, P < 0.000). Two receiver operator characteristic curves were constructed in order to express the imbalance between the sensitivity and specificity of the FEV1/FEV6 ratio compared to two FEV1/FVC cut-off points for airway obstruction: equal to 70 (area under the curve = 0.98, P < 0.0001) and the LLN (area under the curve = 0.97, P < 0.0001), in the post-BD curves. According to an FEV1/FVC <0.70, the cut-off point for the FEV1/FEV6 ratio with the highest sum for sensitivity and specificity was 0.75. The FEV1/FEV6 ratio can be considered to be a good alternative to the FEV1/FVC ratio for the diagnosis of airway obstruction, both using a fixed cut-off point or below the LLN as reference. The FEV1/FEV6 ratio has the additional advantage of being an easier maneuver for the subjects and for the lung function technicians, providing a higher reproducibility than traditional spirometry maneuvers.