Bronchoconstrictor cysteinyl leukotrienes (LT) and thromboxane (TX) A2 have been implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma. Determination of urinary leukotriene E4 (LTE4) and 11-dehydro-TXB2 levels are often used to assess cysteinyl LT and TXA2 production in humans. To define the potential role in the pathogenesis of asthma, we investigated the urinary LTE4 and 11-dehydro-TXB2 levels. LTE4 and 11-dehydro-TXB2 levels were determined using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), respectively. Urinary LTE4 levels in asthmatic patients (192 +/- 122 pg/mg creatinine, n = 14) were significantly higher (P < 0.005) than those in healthy volunteers (55 +/- 16 pg/mg creatinine, n = 13), but no significant difference in 11-dehydro-TXB2 levels was observed. A significant inverse correlation (r = -0.821, P < 0.005) was found between urinary LTE4 levels and the forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) but no significant correlation was observed between urinary 11-dehydro-TXB2 levels and FEV1. The present findings suggest that cysteinyl LTs play a more important role in the pathogenesis of asthma than TXA2.