The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between the matrix degradation biomarkers, desmosine and isodesmosine (desmosines), and lung function. Plasma and creatinine-corrected urinary total desmosines (P- and U-desmosines, respectively), lung function and diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (D(L,CO)) were measured in a cohort of subjects from the Swedish Twin Registry. Concentrations of U- and P-desmosines were measured in 349 and 318 subjects, respectively; approximately one-third of subjects had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Age, female sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking were significantly associated with U-desmosines in a multiple linear regression analysis. In the overall population, after adjustments for age, sex, height, BMI and smoking, concentrations of U-desmosines were significantly correlated with all lung function measures, and P-desmosines with forced expiratory volume in 1 s and D(L,CO) (p<0.05). With the exception of residual volume versus P-desmosines, relationships between concentrations of desmosines and lung function measures were markedly stronger in subjects with COPD compared with those without COPD. These cross-sectional data showing associations between desmosines and several lung function variables suggest that desmosines, particularly U-desmosines, could be a useful biomarker of COPD status.