In patients with pulmonary emphysema, emphysematous changes are not uniform and vary from minimum alveolar destruction to advanced bullous formation, depending on the lobe or site in the lungs. However, we have little knowledge on whether or how this nonuniformity or localization affects pulmonary function in PE patients. Therefore, we measured the computed tomography (CT) density of divided sites in lungs with high-resolution CT images from 25 PE patients (FEV1.0%, mean +/- SD 36 +/- 9%, %DLCO 48 +/- 16%, all men, 68 +/- 4 years) and compared them to various parameters of pulmonary function. The mean CT density of whole lungs correlated with 12 pulmonary function parameters including FEV1.0 and diffusion capacity. When both lung fields were divided into peripheral, intermediate and central portions, the CT density of the central portion correlated with all pulmonary function parameters with which CT density of whole lungs correlated. In contrast, the CT density of the peripheral portion significantly correlated with only 7 parameters with smaller correlation coefficient values than those of the central portion. When divided into upper, middle and lower portions, the CT densities of upper, middle and lower portions correlated with 6, 8 and 10 of the 12 pulmonary function parameters which correlated with the density of whole lungs, respectively. The delta value of CT densities between the upper and lower portions or between the lateral and medial portions correlated with obstructive impairment (FEV1.0 and FEV1.0%). These findings suggest that (1) central rather than peripheral emphysematous changes affect pulmonary function, and (2) uniformity of emphysematous change correlates with the severity of airway obstruction in PE patients.