1. Airways resistance and lung volume were measured in twenty-five patients with chronic bronchitis and fifteen patients without chest disease before and after the inhalation of isoprenaline. Similar measurements were made on fourteen of these patients with chronic bronchitis and twelve other patients without chest disease before and after the intravenous injection of atropine sulphate.
2. There were significant decreases in airways resistance after isoprenaline inhalation and intravenous atropine both in patients with bronchitis and normal subjects but the decreases were greater in the patients with chronic bronchitis.
3. The decrease in resistance was proportional to the degree of initial airways resistance.
4. The results are considered to indicate that bronchial muscle contraction increases the airways resistance of patients with chronic bronchitis and contributes to the airways obstruction; its contribution increases with increasing severity of the condition. A significant part of the increased airways resistance in these patients is potentially reversible and nervously mediated.