The dispersion of particles in the human lung is modeled as a series of virtual mixing tanks. Using the experimental results of Scherer (1975, J. Appl. Physiol., 38(4), pp. 719–723) for a five-generation glass lung model, it is shown that each generation of the glass lung behaves like an independent virtual mixing tank. The corresponding resident time distribution is shown to have a variance approximately equal to the square of the average time a particle spends in the generation. By assuming that each generation of the human lung behaves as an independent virtual mixing tank, the realistic lung data provided by Weibel (1963, Morphometry of the Human Lung, Spinger-Verlag, New York) are used to validate this assumption in two ways. First, the half-width of the exhaled particle concentration profile is obtained. Second, a system of differential equations, with the concentration of particles in each mixing tank as its solution, is derived and solved numerically. This gives the exhaled concentration profile. Both techniques yield similar results to each other, and both give excellent agreement with the experimental data. The virtual mixing tank approach allows the complex mixing that occurs in the branching pathways of the lung to be more simply modeled. The model, thereby derived, is simple to change and could lead to enhancements in the understanding of the underlying processes contributing to the ventilation of the lung in health and disease.