Surfactant-associated (SA) glycoproteins are lung-specific proteins produced in the human lung by alveolar type II cells and Clara cells. The distribution of these proteins was studied immunohistochemically in lung tissue obtained postmortem from 12 stillborn fetuses and 49 infants with hyaline membrane disease (HMD). By 21 weeks of gestation, SA glycoproteins were detected in the fetal alveolar epithelium and within Clara cells. The staining increased in intensity and extent with advancing gestational age. Infants with HMD who survived less than 48 hours did not generally exhibit stainable material either within type II cells or secretions, but staining was often noted in Clara cells as well as focally beneath hyaline membranes. In infants surviving more than 48 hours, intense staining of hyaline membranes, alveolar secretions, proliferating alveolar type II cells, and Clara cells was evident. Immunoreactivity was intense in hypertrophic type II cells that formed a continuous alveolar epithelial lining in lungs with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Included in the population of infants with HMD were 15 infants with pulmonary hypoplasia. The lungs of these infants showed minimal staining for SA glycoproteins regardless of postnatal survival time. The results provide an immunomorphologic basis for defining normal and abnormal lung maturation. They also indicate that enhanced SA glycoprotein production is a sustained response of regenerating and hypertrophic type II cells in premature infants.