Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry was used to quantify phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylglycerol (PG) molecular species in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from control and mild asthmatic subjects after local allergen challenge. BALF was obtained from 5 control and 13 asthmatic subjects before and 24 h after segmental allergen and saline challenge. There were no differences in the ratio of total PC to total PG or in the molecular species composition of PC or PG between the asthmatic and control groups under basal conditions. Allergen challenge in asthmatic but not in control volunteers caused a significant increase in the PC-to-PG ratio because of increased concentrations of PC species containing linoleic acid (16:0/18:2 PC, 18:0/18:2 PC, and 18:1/18:2 PC). These molecular species were characteristic of plasma PC analyzed from the same subjects, strongly suggesting that the altered PC composition in BALF in asthmatic subjects after allergen challenge was due to infiltration of plasma lipoprotein, not to catabolism of surfactant phospholipid. Interactions between surfactant and lipoprotein infiltrate may contribute to surfactant dysfunction and potentiate disease severity in asthma.