OBJECTIVE: To evaluate pulmonary functions of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), and myotonic muscular dystrophy (MMD) at the onset of ventilatory insufficiency. METHODS: This retrospective study included ALS, DMD, and MMD patients with regular outpatient clinic follow-up in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Gangnam Severance Hospital before the application of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV). The patients were enrolled from August 2001 to March 2014. If patients experienced ventilatory insufficiency, they were treated with NIPPV, and their pulmonary functions were subsequently measured. RESULTS: Ninety-four DMD patients, 41 ALS patients, and 21 MMD patients were included in the study. The mean SpO2 was lower in the MMD group than in the other two groups. The mean forced vital capacity (FVC) in the supine position was approximately low to mid 20% on average in DMD and ALS patients, whereas it was 10% higher in MMD patients. ALS patients showed a significantly lower FVC in the supine position than in the sitting position. Maximal insufflation capacity, unassisted peak cough flow, maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP), and maximum expiratory pressure (MEP) were significantly higher in MMD group than in the other groups. MEP was significantly the lowest in DMD patients, followed by in ALS, and MMD patients, in order. CONCLUSION: Disease-specific values of pulmonary function, including FVC, MEP, and MIP, can be accurately used to assess the onset of ventilatory insufficiency in patients with ALS, DMD, and MMD.