Sputum isolation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is associated with extensive disease in bronchiectasis. It is not known, however, whether infection with P. aeruginosa is the result or the cause of severe disease. We compared spirometry in patients with bronchiectasis before and after infection with P. aeruginosa, with that of patients infected by other organisms. All patients (n=12) with chronic colonization by P. aeruginosa (PA group) were studied. These were compared with other patients with bronchiectasis with no isolations of P. aeruginosa (n=37, non-PA group). In the PA group, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were lower than in the non-PA group. The PA group, however, also had lower values at the time of initial colonization with P. aeruginosa than the current values for the non-PA group. Change in FEV1 and FVC over time was faster in the PA group than in the non-PA group. Reduction of FEV1 and FVC over time in the PA group prior to P. aeruginosa colonization was intermediate, not being statistically different from either value above. Our results confirm the association of chronic P. aeruginosa colonization with poor lung function, but conclude that patients with bronchiectasis who become colonized by P. aeruginosa have poorer lung function when first colonized than those colonized by other organisms. Decline in lung function is faster in those chronically colonized by P. aeruginosa than in those colonized by other organisms. It is not clear whether chronic P. aeruginosa colonization causes an accelerated decline in lung function or whether it is simply a marker of those whose lung function is already declining rapidly.