Antioxidants in the lung have a protective role against oxidative damage. We have investigated whether dietary antioxidant intake in elderly people is related to lung function. Dietary intakes of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and lung function were assessed in 178 men and women aged 70 to 96 yr selected on the basis of reported respiratory symptoms. After adjustment for age, gender, height, smoking habits, total energy intake, and vitamin C intake by multiple linear regression, vitamin E intake was significantly associated with FEV1 p = 0.012 and FVC p = 0.003. There was no evidence of any interaction between vitamin E intake and current tobacco smoking as determinants of lung function. For every extra milligram increase in vitamin E in the daily diet, FEV1 increased by an estimated 42 ml and FVC by an estimated 54 ml. These results suggest that dietary intake of vitamin E may influence lung function in the elderly, but food frequency questionnaires in this study were not of sufficient sensitivity to explore this hypothesis further.