A method for predicting postoperative respiratory function following lung resection has been used in 11 patients with both histologically proven bronchial carcinoma and chronic obstructive airways disease, in order to assess their fitness for surgical treatment. Quantitative ventilation and perfusion scintigrams were used to measure the amount of functioning tissue in each lung. These data were used in conjunction with spirometric measurements to calculate the likely functional effect of pneumonectomy. There was a high degree of correlation (r) between predicted and measured lung function for both FEV1 (r = 0.75, P less than 0.01) and FVC (r = 0.88, P less than 0.01). The postoperative FEV1 was within 150 ml of the predicted value in 45% of the patients. In the remaining patients the actual volumes were greater than predicted by 210-540 ml. For FVC the results were within 150 ml of predicted in 45% of patients and in the remainder actual volumes were greater by 160-650 ml. Both sets of calculations underestimated lung volumes by an average of 200 ml. The method is shown to be accurate, simple, non-invasive, and readily available and brings a degree of objectivity to an important decision that is often based mainly on clinical assessment.