Our study investigated a group of 216 wool textile workers (158 women and 58 men). Respiratory symptoms were assessed by questionnaire in wool textile workers and in 130 not exposed (control) workers. Ventilatory capacity was measured in wool workers by recording maximum expiratory flow-volume (MEFV) curves on Monday before and after the work shift. Forced vital capacity (FVC), 1-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1), and flow rates at 50% and the last 25% of the vital capacity (FEF50, FEF25) were measured on the MEFV curves. Analysis of the data demonstrated a significantly higher prevalence of all chronic respiratory symptoms in wool workers than in controls, being the highest in wool workers for nasal catarrh (M: 63.8%; F: 44.9%) and for sinusitis (M: 62.1%; F: 43.0%). A high prevalence of acute symptoms, associated with the work shift, was also noted in wool workers. Exposure to wool dust caused significant across-shift reductions of ventilatory capacity varying from 1.4% for FEV1 to 9.1% for FEF50. Textile workers exposed to wool for > 10 years in the workplace had similar across-shift reductions of ventilatory capacity tests as those with shorter exposures. In a large number of these wool workers, FEF50 and FEF25 were below 70% of predicted normal values. Smokers had acute and chronic lung function changes similar to those of nonsmokers, indicating that smoking did not account for all the respiratory effects seen in wool processing workers. Our data suggest that dust exposures in wool textile mills may be associated with the development of chronic respiratory symptoms and impaired lung function.