1. The effect of intravenous infusions of saline, and 2, 4 and 8% (v/v in saline) ethanol on airflow were assessed in five normal male subjects and five male patients with asthma.
2. Normal subjects showed no response to intravenous ethanol at any dose.
3. in patients with asthma, specific airways conductance (sGaw) showed a sustained rise of approx. 32.8% from baseline with 8% ethanol which was not seen at lower doses. By contrast, salbutamol (400 μg by aerosol) caused a mean rise in sGaw of 84.4% from baseline.
4. Blood ethanol concentrations showed a sustained rise over the full duration of the study with 8% ethanol but not with lower doses.
5. Ethanol causes a sustained improvement in sGaw in patients with asthma (38.9% of the response to salbutamol) if blood ethanol levels are sufficiently elevated.