Nonspecific bronchial responsiveness was assessed by an abbreviated methacholine challenge test in 458 male participants of the Normative Aging Study, who also completed a respiratory questionnaire and spirometry. A positive response to the methacholine challenge test was defined as a greater than or equal to 20% decline in FEV1 during the test. Cigarette smoking was significantly associated with a positive methacholine response (p less than 0.001). Logistic regression analyses indicated that there was a significant association between a positive response to methacholine and both any wheeze (p = 0.002) and persistent wheeze (p less than 0.001) after taking into account smoking status and age; an association between responsiveness and chronic cough was of borderline significance (p = 0.06). Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that positive methacholine responsiveness was independently associated with lower levels of FEV1 (p less than 0.001) and FEF25-75 (p less than 0.001). Using the log of the dose-response slope rather than a dichotomous variable to characterize responder status yielded very similar results in the linear and logistic models. The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that increased level of nonspecific responsiveness is significantly associated with wheeze and cough symptoms and decreased levels of pulmonary function in adult men. Longitudinal follow-up of these men should shed light on the importance of nonspecific responsiveness as a risk factor for the subsequent development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.