We conducted a longitudinal study to determine the annual rate decline in pulmonary function measurements in male swine confinement workers. For comparison, a grain farming group and a nonfarming rural-dwelling control group were also chosen for the longitudinal study. Two hundred seventeen swine confinement workers, 218 grain farmers, and 179 nonfarming control subjects had valid pulmonary function measurements at the baseline observation conducted in 1990 to 1991 and at the second observation conducted in 1994 to 1995. The swine confinement workers were younger (mean age=38.3+/-11.7 [SD] years) than the nonfarming control subjects (42.6+/-10.4 years) and the grain farmers (44.5+/-11.9 years). When stratified by age, nonfarming control subjects had the lowest mean annual rate decline in FEV1 and FVC in all age categories. The swine confinement workers had the largest annual rate decline in FEV1 and FVC, and this was most obvious in the middle age categories. After controlling for age, height, smoking, and baseline pulmonary function, swine confinement workers had excess annual decline of 26.1 mL in FEV1 (p=0.0005), 33.5 mL in FVC (p=0.0002), and 42.0 mL/s in forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of FVC (FEF[25-75%]) (p=0.02) over nonfarming control subjects. Grain farmers had excess annual decline of 16.4 mL in FEV1 (p=0.03), 26.7 mL in FVC (p=0.002), and 11.2 mL/s in FEF(25-75%) (p=0.38) over control subjects. These findings suggest that workers engaged in the swine industry and grain farmers appear prone to accelerated yearly losses in lung function and may therefore be at risk for the future development of chronic airflow limitation.