The tight-skin (tsk) mouse has been recently proposed as a model of genetically determined emphysema. In the present study, the development of this lung lesion was investigated morphometrically in both male and female tsk mice from 4 days to 16 months of age. "Pallid" (pa) mice with a closely related genetic background served as controls. Despite small differences in the mean linear intercept seen at 1 and at 16 months, both male and female tsk mice were found to be similarly susceptible to the development of the emphysematous lesion. Three main phases were observed in the evolution of the emphysema. The first phase, from 4 days to 2 months after birth, included enlargement of the peripheral lung units, already evident at 4 and at 15 days, and destruction of the lung parenchyma, which occurred between 15 days and 1 month and rapidly progressed for as long as 2 months. A second phase of stabilization or of mild progression of the emphysematous lesion occurred between 2 and 8 months of age. A third phase, in the advanced age between 8 and 16 months, included a further exacerbation of the parenchymal destruction. At 16 months of age, the lungs of the pa mice also showed some patchy areas of air-space enlargement with destruction of the alveolar septa.