The pulmonary function of 88 consecutive leukemic patients who had undergone allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) was studied beforehand, at 3 months, at 6 months, and annually thereafter until 5 years after grafting. The parameters for function which are indicative for obstructive and restrictive lung disease deteriorated in all patient groups during the first 3 to 6 months after BMT but partially recovered within one year. Long-term decline in lung function was similar in all patient groups, and neither the onset nor the magnitude of pulmonary dysfunction was related to the occurrence of pulmonary impairment within 6 months after grafting. Multivariate analysis was then employed to assess predictors for long-term pulmonary disease. Despite the obvious effect of chronic graft versus host disease on the course of lung function, it was in itself not a significant predictor of long-term pulmonary outcome. Rather, the conditioning regimen turned out to be indicative; compared with busulfan, fractionated total body irradiation was demonstrated to be clearly superior with a lower incidence of both restrictive and obstructive long-term lung impairment. Our data indicate a previously unknown long-term side effect of busulfan conditioning.