The relationship between free-stream turbulence and boundary layer behavior has been investigated using spectral measurements. The power spectral densities of turbulence quantities in transitional and fully turbulent boundary layers were computed and compared to the power spectra of the same quantities measured in the free stream. Comparisons were made using the 'transfer function.' The transfer function is the ratio of two spectra at each frequency in the spectra. Comparisons were done in flow with low (0.6 percent) and high (8 percent) free-stream turbulence intensities. Evidence was gathered that suggests that relatively low-frequency, large-scale eddies in the free stream buffet the boundary layer, causing boundary layer unsteadiness at the same low frequencies. These fluctuations are present in both transitional and fully turbulent boundary layers. They are seen under both high and low free-stream turbulence conditions, although they are stronger in the high-turbulence case. Examination of the turbulent shear stress suggests that the low-frequency fluctuations enhance transport in the boundary layer but they are not so effective in promoting eddy transport as are turbulent eddies produced and residing within the boundary layer. In the fully-turbulent boundary layer, higher-frequency fluctuations are added to the low-frequency unsteadiness. These higher-frequency fluctuations, not seen in the transitional boundary layer, are associated with turbulence production in the boundary layer and appear not to be directly related to free-stream unsteadiness.