Smoking-related interstitial lung diseases are characterized by the accumulation of macrophages and Langerhans cells, and fibrotic remodeling, which are linked to osteopontin (OPN) expression. Therefore, OPN levels were investigated in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells in 11 patients with pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis (PLCH), 15 patients with desquamative interstitial pneumonitis (DIP), 10 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, 5 patients with sarcoidosis, 13 otherwise healthy smokers, and 19 non-smoking controls. Furthermore, OPN overexpression was examined in rat lungs using adenoviral gene transfer. We found that BAL cells from patients with either PLCH or DIP spontaneously produced abundant amounts of OPN. BAL cells from healthy smokers produced 15-fold less OPN, and those cells from non-smoking healthy volunteers produced no OPN. BAL cells from patients with either idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or sarcoidosis produced significantly less OPN, as compared with patients with PLCH. These data were confirmed by immunochemistry. Nicotine stimulation increased production of both OPN and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor by alveolar macrophages from smokers. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor expression resembled the pattern of spontaneous OPN production and was dramatically increased in both PLCH and DIP. OPN overexpression in rat lungs induced lesions similar to PLCH with marked alveolar and interstitial accumulation of Langerhans cells. Our findings suggest a pathogenetic role of increased OPN production in both PLCH and DIP by promoting the accumulation of macrophages and Langerhans cells.