To determine if a relationship exists between maximal static respiratory pressures measured at the mouth and age greater than 55 yr, and if so, whether regression equations can be derived that accurately reflect this, we measured maximal inspiratory (Plmax) and expiratory (PEmax) pressures in 64 normal women and 40 normal men older than 55 yr of age. We found no relationship between PImax and PEmax and age greater than 55 yr (all r squared values less than 0.14). We tested the reproducibility of our measurements of PImax and PEmax in 13 and 12 subjects, respectively, on three separate occasions. Repeated measures analysis showed no significant differences in these measurements. Using the measurements obtained in this large study, we calculated 95% confidence limits for PImax and PEmax values in men and women older than 55 yr of age. The 95% confidence limits for PImax in men were 55 to 161 cm H2O, and 26 to 124 cm H2O in women. The 95% confidence limits for PEmax in men were 90 to 256 cm H2O, and 46 to 184 cm H2O in women. We conclude that given the large interindividual variation, a cross-sectional study such as this or other previous studies may not be able to reveal age-dependent changes unless very large numbers are used, and even then potential for bias exists. However, with the small intraindividual coefficients of variation in repeated measurements of PImax and PEmax, a longitudinal study may provide more pertinent information.