Review of 2895 consecutive autopsies from 1962 to 1980 inclusive showed no significant differences in the prevalence of emphysema or other chronic lung disease between 282 active and retired employees of a cotton textile mill and the nontextile population. There was no statistical evidence that exposure to cotton dust, even after many years, produced emphysema, interstitial fibrosis, or cor pulmonale. The prevalence of emphysema in the series was highest in white males (22.0%), followed closely by black males (18.3%). In white females it was 7.5%, in black females, 5.5%. The prevalence in subjects under age 50 yr was 4.5%; in the age group 60-64 yr, 14.6%; and in subjects 65 yr of age and older, 21.9%. A significant increase in the prevalence of emphysema occurred between the 1962 to 1969 period and the 1970 to 1980 period.