The present study was carried out to clarify the effects of extracts of the leaves of Mentha piperita L. on experimental allergic rhinitis. The 50% EtOH extract of peppermint inhibited histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells induced by compound 48/80. The effect was dose-dependent and significant inhibition was observed at a concentration of 3 microg/ml. In addition, the 50% EtOH eluate separated from the 50% EtOH extract of peppermint by column chromatography (DIAION HP-20) was also effective in inhibiting histamine release at a concentration of 1 microg/ml. Nasal symptoms, sneezing and nasal rubbing induced by antigen challenge in actively sensitized rats were inhibited by oral administration of the 50% EtOH eluate. Significant inhibition of sneezing and nasal rubbing was observed at doses of 300 and 1000 mg/kg, p.o., respectively. Furthermore, the 50% EtOH eluate inhibited dye leakage into the nasal cavity of rats induced by antigen in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggested that extracts of Mentha piperita L. may be clinically effective in alleviating the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis.