1. Lung volumes and maximum expiratory flow volume (MEFV) curves were measured before and after exercise and after a bronchodilator in eight asthmatic children.
2. Exercise produced significant changes in all volumes and flow rates measured, but the most sensitive measurement was of flow rate at an absolute volume in the terminal portion of the forced vital capacity. Of the more simply obtained measurements maximal flow at 50% of the exhaled vital capacity was the most sensitive, but reductions in forced expiratory volume at 1 s and peak flow rate were almost as marked.
3. The marked reductions in flow rates at low lung volumes after exercise were accompanied by large increases in residual volume and a reduction in the slope of the MEFV curve. These changes suggest functional closure of some lung units and an increase in the time-constant of emptying of other units.
4. The response of flow to breathing helium—oxygen (79:21, v/v) was assessed in the dilated state (before exercise or after bronchodilator) and the constricted state (after exercise) in five of the subjects.
5. An increase in density-dependence of flow rates at all lung volumes during constriction is evidence that, despite the reduction in flow rates, convective acceleration and turbulent flow constitute a greater proportion of the total upstream resistance after exercise than before exercise. The implication is that the cross-sectional area at equal pressure points (EPP) is smaller after exercise than before exercise. This could result from either bronchoconstriction with no change in the location of EPP, or from progression of the EPP further upstream to a region where loss of airways or reduction in their diameter has rendered the total cross-sectional area considerably smaller than under normal circumstances.