Clinical appearance, radiologic findings, lung function and results of corticosteroid therapy were analyzed in 42 adult cases of biopsy-proven pulmonary histiocytosis X. Symptoms were present in only 64%. Using the ILO classification 1980, the evaluation of chest radiographs revealed all categories of profusion, size and shape of nodules. The characteristic 'ring figures', i.e. thin-walled cysts, in the parenchyma were detected in 78% of conventional tomographies (n = 27) and in all patients examined by CT (n = 5). In patients with early disease, lung function tests (n = 26) including body plethysmography, pulmonary diffusing capacity and ergospirometry revealed that parameters of gas exchange are most sensitive (TL,CO 84%, KCO 72%). Bronchial reactivity to carbachol was significantly higher than in controls (n = 12). Lung perfusion scintigram showed an abnormal, but uncharacteristic pattern in 81% (n = 26). During corticosteroid therapy, no progression was observed (n = 36). 85% of patients with radiographic evidence of progressive disease improved after administration of corticosteroids (n = 14).