Understanding the significance of bacterial species that colonize and persist in cystic fibrosis (CF) airways requires a detailed examination of bacterial community structure across a broad range of age and disease stage. We used 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing to characterize the lung microbiota in 269 CF patients spanning a 60 year age range, including 76 pediatric samples from patients of age 4-17, and a broad cross-section of disease status to identify features of bacterial community structure and their relationship to disease stage and age. The CF lung microbiota shows significant inter-individual variability in community structure, composition and diversity. The core microbiota consists of five genera - Streptococcus, Prevotella, Rothia, Veillonella and Actinomyces. CF-associated pathogens such as Pseudomonas, Burkholderia, Stenotrophomonas and Achromobacter are less prevalent than core genera, but have a strong tendency to dominate the bacterial community when present. Community diversity and lung function are greatest in patients less than 10 years of age and lower in older age groups, plateauing at approximately age 25. Lower community diversity correlates with worse lung function in a multivariate regression model. Infection by Pseudomonas correlates with age-associated trends in community diversity and lung function.