We used a CT program "density mask" outlining areas with attenuation values less than -910 HU, to indicate areas of emphysema on a chest CT and to provide an overall percentage of lung involvement by emphysema. The "density mask" quantitation of emphysema was previously shown to correlate well with the pathologic assessment of emphysema in patients undergoing lung resection. We compared the CT quantitation of emphysema with mean lung density, overall lung volume on CT and pulmonary function tests in 85 patients. There was a significant correlation between the extent of emphysema on CT and FEV/FVC percent of predicted, functional residual capacity percent predicted and Dsb percent predicted. Determination of the percentage of lung with areas of low attenuation by CT provides a useful method for quantitating emphysema in life and correlates significantly with pulmonary function tests.