Lung‐function reference values play a vital role in the management of respiratory disorders. There are many proposed reference equations for pediatric spirometry. Recently, spirometric reference equations were proposed, using data from people aged 8–80 years living in the US compiled by the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Our objective was to compare the predictive value of wider age‐range reference equations to established pediatric reference equations for the pediatric population. Spirometry, height, and weight were obtained from 70 normal children aged 6–18 years. The difference between measured and predicted values as suggested by different reference equations was compared. Predicted values from general equations significantly differed from those generated from pediatric equations and from measured values in this population. The difference between measured and predicted values from the wider age‐range equations varied between 7–16% for forced expired volume in 1 sec (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC). The difference between measured and predicted values for the pediatric equations varied between 1–4%. Although wider age‐range equations provide continuity through age ranges, their predictive accuracy may be low in the pediatric age group, especially for the youngest, smallest children. Extrapolating reference equations beyond the age range of subjects used to generate then is not recommended. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2004; 37:515–522. © 2004 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.