Background. Emphysema is the most common indication for lung transplantation. Recipients include younger patients with genetically determined alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAD) and, more commonly, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We analyzed the results of our single-institution series of lung transplants for emphysema to identify outcome differences and factors predicting mortality and morbidity in these two groups. Methods. A retrospective analysis was undertaken of the 306 consecutive lung transplants for emphysema performed at our institution between 1988 and 2000 (220 COPD, 86 AAD). Follow-up was complete and averaged 3.7 years. Results. The mean age of AAD recipients (49 ± 6 years) was less than those with COPD (55 ± 6 years; p < 0.001). Hospital mortality was 6.2%, with no difference between COPD and AAD, or between single-lung transplants and bilateral-lung transplants. Hospital mortality during the most recent 6 years was significantly lower (3.9% vs 9.5%, p = 0.044). Five-year survival was 58.6% ± 3.5%, with no difference between COPD (56.8% ± 4.4%) and AAD (60.5% ± 5.8%). Five-year survival was better with bilateral-lung transplants (66.7% ± 4.0%) than with singlelung transplants (44.9% ± 6.0%, p < 0.005). Independent predictors of mortality by Cox analysis were single lung transplantation (relative hazard = 1.98, p < 0.001), and need for cardiopulmonary bypass during the transplant (relative hazard = 1.84, p = 0.038). Conclusions. AAD recipients, despite a younger age, do not achieve significantly superior survival results than those with COPD. Bilateral lung transplantation for emphysema results in better long-term survival. Accumulated experience and modifications in perioperative care over our 13-year series may explain recently improved early and long-term survival.