1. Arterial plasma histamine concentrations, forced expiratory volume in 1.0 s (FEV1.0) and peak expiratory flow rate were determined in nine patients with exercise-induced asthma and in five control subjects before and after 8 min of cycle-ergometer exercise.
2. In the controls neither FEV1.0 nor peak expiratory flow rate fell by more than 5% in any individual during the 30 min postexercise period. The asthmatic patients all experienced a fall in FEV1.0 or peak expiratory flow rate, or both, of 15% or more in the period 5–20 min after completion of the exercise.
3. There was no difference between the control subjects and the asthmatic patients in the plasma histamine response to exercise. In both groups there was an insignificant rise of about 40% during exercise, although the initial levels were higher in the asthmatic patients.
4. The mean plasma histamine peak of the asthmatic patients preceded the mean maximal fall of FEV1.0 and peak expiratory flow rate by approximately 15 min. However, no positive correlation was found between rise in, or peak, plasma histamine levels and decrease in lung function.
5. Three non-atopic asthmatic patients had a significantly higher mean plasma histamine concentration during exercise than had the atopic subjects.
6. A strong positive correlation in asthmatic patients, and asthmatic and control subjects together was found between age and mean postexercise plasma histamine concentrations.
7. The results do not support a direct role for histamine in the production of exercise-induced asthma.