This study investigated the clinical characteristics and the possible involvement of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene in patients with symptomatic diffuse bronchiectasis (DB) associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty-six patients with both RA and DB (group RA+DB) and control groups of 29 consecutive patients with RA but no bronchiectasis (group RA) and 29 patients with symptomatic DB of unknown origin (group DB) were prospectively studied. Among the patients of the RA+DB group, four (15.4%) were heterozygous for the CFTR gene deltaF508 mutation, whereas no deltaF508 mutation was found in patients of the RA and the DB groups (both, p<0.05). This frequency of deltaF508 mutation was also higher than the expected frequency (2.8%) in the general European population (p<0.04). Sweat chloride values and nasal potential differences were normal in three out of four patients carrying the deltaF508 mutation. In the RA+DB group, those with deltaF508 mutation had more frequent chronic sinusitis (p<0.05), a trend toward a more severe pulmonary involvement, and a lower value of nasal potential differences (p<0.01) whereas their rheumatic features had no particularity. In the RA+DB group, patients with adult-onset bronchiectasis (including two with deltaF508 mutation) had a greater reduction in total lung capacity (p<0.05) and lower nasal potential differences (p<0.005) than those with childhood-onset bronchiectasis. This study suggests a possible deleterious effect of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator mutated protein in the airways which may predispose to the development and severity of bronchiectasis in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.