In 6 healthy subjects and 13 patients with chronic obstructive lung disease, /sup 133/Xe washout curves after bolus inhalation, perfusion and equilibration were compared, using a gamma camera and computerized data handling. In healthy subjects the washout after equilibration was significantly slower than after the two other procedures. As this phenomenon occurred at the basal zones, it was attributed to the presence of airway closure in some units. In patients, the three washouts were significantly different from each other. This indicated the existence of intraregional inhomogeneity in ventilation, perfusion and ventilation-perfusion ratio. Our conclusion is that comparison of these different washout methods yields valuable information not only on absolute values of pulmonary function but also on the intraregional distribution, which cannot be obtained by other examinations.