We examined 72 children aged 6-9 years to assess the effects of prematurity and ventilator treatment on subsequent lung function and respiratory morbidity. The preterm study group (n = 42) was divided into children with a history of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) (n = 10), children who had had neonatal respiratory treatment but no BPD (n = 19), and children without severe neonatal respiratory problems (n = 13). The BPD children as a group had markedly lower specific airway conductance and larger residual volume than did the full-term control group, but there were no significant differences in spirometric measurements. The BPD group also had higher respiratory morbidity requiring hospitalizations, particularly during the first 2 years of life, than did the children in the other study groups. Therefore, BPD may improve but does not disappear as age increases. Non-BPD children who had had ventilator treatment as neonates recovered well and suffered no severe respiratory problems after infancy. Pulmonary function parameters in prematurely born children without neonatal ventilator treatment did not differ from those in the full-term control group. Thus, neonatal lung disease seems to be a more important determinant of abnormal pulmonary function at a later age than is prematurity alone.