The purpose of this study was to obtain more information about the effect on lung function of stopping smoking or of modifying the smoking habit and to determine the time course of change. We followed a group of 75 cigarette smokers who attended a smoking cessation clinic in May 1973, using a respiratory symptom questionnaire, spirometry, closing volumes, and the slope of the alveolar plateau of the single-breath nitrogen test. Subjects were tested before stopping smoking and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the initial testing. We found a significant (P less than 0.05) improvement in closing volume as a percentage of vital capacity and closing capacity as a percentage of total lung capacity at 6 and 12 months and in the slope of the alveolar plateau at 1, 6, and 12 months in those who stopped smoking. There was also a dramatic decrease in respiratory symptoms in those who stopped smoking, a moderate decrease in those who reduced their consumption by at least 25 per cent, and very little change in those who did not appreciably modify their smoking consumption.