Programmatically retrieve all lookup field values

If you are using a lookup field in code and need to retrieve the values available through that lookup, you can do so by writing a generic method to return all possible values in a collection for you to use as needed. Here is an example:

public static List<SPFieldLookupValue> GetLookupFieldValues(SPList list, string fieldName)


        var results = new List<SPFieldLookupValue>();

        var field = list.Fields.GetField(fieldName);


        if (field.Type != SPFieldType.Lookup) throw new SPException(String.Format("The field {0} is not a lookup field.", fieldName));


        var lookupField = field as SPFieldLookup;

        var lookupList = list.ParentWeb.Lists[Guid.Parse(lookupField.LookupList)];

        var query = new SPQuery();


        query.Query = String.Format("<OrderBy><FieldRef Name='{0}'/></OrderBy>", lookupField.LookupField);


        foreach (SPListItem item in lookupList.GetItems(query))


            results.Add(new SPFieldLookupValue(item.ID, item[lookupField.LookupField].ToString()));



        return results;


Then to use it, your code would look something like this:

var list = SPContext.Current.Web.Lists["My List"];

var results = GetLookupFieldValues(list, "Actual City");


foreach (SPFieldLookupValue result in results)


    var value = result.LookupValue;

    var id = result.LookupId;


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