Serum surfactant protein (SP)-A offers a useful clinical marker for interstitial lung disease (ILD). However, SP-A is occasionally elevated in non-ILD pulmonary patients. The present study was conducted to investigate factors that affect serum SP- A levels in respiratory medicine. Serum SP-A, serum SP-D, serum Klebs von den Lungen (KL)-6 and pulmonary function tests were evaluated in 929 patients (current smokers, n=255; ex-smokers, n=242; never-smokers, n=432) without ILD or pulmonary alveolar proteinosis. Serum SP-A was significantly higher in current smokers than in never- or ex-smokers (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively). Serum SP- A was significantly higher in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary thromboembolism than in other diseases (p<0.01). Serum SP-A correlated positively with amount of smoking (p<0.01) and negatively with forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity (p<0.05). Serum SP-D and KL-6 were unaffected by smoking. Smoking should be taken into account when evaluating serum SP-A levels, and different baseline levels of serum SP-A should be established for smokers and non-smokers. Serum SP-A may also represent a useful marker for predicting COPD in the preclinical stage.