Proteasomes appear to be involved in the pathophysiology of various acute and chronic lung diseases. Information on the human lung proteasome in health and disease, however, is sparse. Therefore, we studied whether end-stage pulmonary diseases are associated with alterations in lung 20S/26S proteasome content, activity and 20S subunit composition. Biopsies were obtained from donor lungs (n=7) and explanted lungs from patients undergoing lung transplantation because of end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; n=7), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF, n=7) and pulmonary sarcoidosis (n=5). 20S/26S proteasomes in lung extracts were quantified by ELISA, chymotrypsin-like proteasome peptidase activities measured and 20S proteasome beta subunits analyzed by Western blot. As compared with donor lungs, proteasome content was increased in IPF and sarcoidosis, but not in COPD. The relative distribution of free 20S and 26S proteasomes was similar; 20S proteasome was predominant in all extracts. Proteasome peptidase activities in donor and diseased lungs were indistinguishable. All extracts contained a mixed composition of inducible 20S beta immuno-subunits and their constitutive counterparts; a disease associated distribution could not be identified. A higher content of lung proteasomes in IPF and pulmonary sarcoidosis may contribute to the pathophysiology of human fibrotic lung diseases.