The abundant and restricted expression of surfactant proteins SP-A and SP-D within the lung makes these collectins specific markers for lung diseases. The measurement of SP-A and SP-D in amniotic fluids and tracheal aspirates reflects lung maturity and the production level of the lung surfactant in infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The SP-A concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluids are significantly decreased in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and also in patients at risk to develop ARDS. The prominent increase of these proteins in BAL fluids and sputum is diagnostic for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP). The concentrations of SP-A and SP-D in BAL fluids from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and interstitial pneumonia with collagen vascular diseases (IPCD) are rather lower than those in healthy controls and the SP-A/phospholipid ratio may be a useful marker of survival prediction. SP-A and SP-D appear in the circulation in specific lung diseases. Their serum concentrations significantly increase in patients with PAP, IPF and IPCD. The successive monitoring of serum levels of SP-A and SP-D may predict the disease activity. The serum SP-A levels increase in patients with ARDS. SP-A is also a marker for lung adenocarcinomas and can be used to differentiate lung adenocarcinomas from other types and metastatic cancers from other origins, and to detect metastasis of lung adenocarcinomas.