Previous studies on the association of ankylosing spondylitis and abnormalities of the lung parenchyma have been based largely on plain radiography and pulmonary function testing. This study, although uncontrolled, is the first to use high-resolution computed tomography to examine the entire lung parenchyma in ankylosing spondylitis patients, and to correlate the findings with clinical assessment, plain radiography and pulmonary function testing. The study population comprised 26 patients meeting the New York criteria for idiopathic ankylosing spondylitis who attended the out-patient department at our institution. High-resolution computed tomography examination revealed abnormalities in 19 patients (70%): these included interstitial lung disease (n = 4), bronchiectasis (n = 6), emphysema (n = 4), apical fibrosis (n = 2), mycetoma (n = 1) and non-specific interstitial lung disease (n = 12). Plain radiography was abnormal in only four patients and failed to identify any patient with interstitial lung disease. All patients with interstitial lung disease on high-resolution computed tomography had respiratory symptoms and three of the four had evidence of a restrictive process on pulmonary function testing. This study raises, for the first time, the possible association between interstitial lung disease and ankylosing spondylitis, and highlights the use of high-resolution computed tomography in detecting such disease in ankylosing spondylitis patients.