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Modeling of respiratory motion has become increasingly important in various applications of medical imaging (e.g., radiation therapy of lung cancer). Current modeling approaches are usually confined to intra-patient registration of 3D image data representing the individual patient's anatomy at different breathing phases. We propose an approach to generate a mean motion model of the lung based on thoracic 4D computed tomography (CT) data of different patients to extend the motion modeling capabilities. Our modeling process consists of three steps: an intra-subject registration to generate subject-specific motion models, the generation of an average shape and intensity atlas of the lung as anatomical reference frame, and the registration of the subject-specific motion models to the atlas in order to build a statistical 4D mean motion model (4D-MMM). Furthermore, we present methods to adapt the 4D mean motion model to a patient-specific lung geometry. In all steps, a symmetric diffeomorphic nonlinear intensity-based registration method was employed. The Log-Euclidean framework was used to compute statistics on the diffeomorphic transformations. The presented methods are then used to build a mean motion model of respiratory lung motion using thoracic 4D CT data sets of 17 patients. We evaluate the model by applying it for estimating respiratory motion of ten lung cancer patients. The prediction is evaluated with respect to landmark and tumor motion, and the quantitative analysis results in a mean target registration error (TRE) of 3.3 ±1.6 mm if lung dynamics are not impaired by large lung tumors or other lung disorders (e.g., emphysema). With regard to lung tumor motion, we show that prediction accuracy is independent of tumor size and tumor motion amplitude in the considered data set. However, tumors adhering to non-lung structures degrade local lung dynamics significantly and the model-based prediction accuracy is lower in these cases. The statistical respi- atory motion model is capable of providing valuable prior knowledge in many fields of applications. We present two examples of possible applications in radiation therapy and image guided diagnosis.