It has been shown that in normal subjects and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients the maximal expiratory flows and FEV1 are significantly higher if the FVC maneuver is preceded by a rapid inspiration without an end-inspiratory pause (maneuver 1) compared with a slow inspiration with an end-inspiratory pause of approximately 5 s (maneuver 2). This time dependency of FVC was attributed primarily to loss of lung recoil (stress relaxation) during breath-holding at TLC, in association with time constant inequality within the lungs, and changes in bronchomotor tone. To examine the role of bronchomotor tone on time dependency of FVC, 11 COPD and 10 asthmatic patients performed FVC maneuvers 1 and 2 before and after administration of a bronchodilator drug (salbutamol). In addition, using the same approach, the effects of changing airway resistance per se were assessed in another group of 10 COPD patients and 10 normal subjects, while breathing air and after equilibration with 80% helium in oxygen. Main findings were: peak expiratory flow (PEF), FEV1, and maximal midexpiratory flow rate (MMF) were significantly larger with maneuver 1 than 2; after salbutamol administration and during helium-oxygen breathing, all indices increased significantly with both maneuvers but the relative differences between maneuvers 1 and 2 were unchanged. We conclude that time dependency of maximal expiratory flow-volume (MEFV) curves, as indexed by PEF, FEV1, and MMF, is largely independent of bronchomotor tone and gas density, and probably reflects mainly stress relaxation of the respiratory tissues. The relevance of time dependency of FVC maneuver in the assessment of bronchodilator response and density dependence is discussed.