The authors studied the relationship between patient self-reported symptoms and responses to a general measure of health-related quality of life [Short Form 36 (SF-36)] for 102 patients who had chronic lung disease [forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) < 70%]. The primary diagnoses were chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma; the mean age was 62 years, and 46% were women. Based upon Medical Research Council (MRC) symptom scores, the patients' disease severity was classified as mild (21%), moderate (22%), or severe (57%). The SF-36 scores differed significantly between disease severity groups in domains of health perception, physical functioning, physical role, and energy. The SF-36 physical functioning and Oxygen Cost Diagram scores correlated well (r = 0.78). The authors conclude that SF-36 is a useful and valid measure of general health status in patients with chronic lung disorders.