It has been suggested in cross-sectional studies that provocation with adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP) more closely reflects the inflammatory process in asthma than does provocation with methacholine or histamine. We investigated whether the steroid-induced improvement in the provocative concentration of AMP producing a 20% decline in FEV1 (PC20 AMP) is more closely associated with the concomitant reduction in airway inflammation than is the improvement in PC20 methacholine. In 120 asthmatic patients, we measured PC20 methacholine and PC20 AMP as well as sputum induction and nitric oxide (NO) in exhaled air before and after 2 weeks of treatment with corticosteroids. Improvement in PC20 AMP was solely related to reduction in airway inflammation (i.e., change in the number of sputum eosinophils, lymphocytes, epithelial cells, and concentration of NO in exhaled air). In contrast, improvement in PC20 methacholine was related to both reduction in airway inflammation (i.e., change in the number of sputum eosinophils and lymphocytes) and increase in FEV1 %predicted. The total explained variance of the improvement in bronchial hyperresponsiveness was greater for AMP than for methacholine (36% versus 22%, respectively). We conclude that PC20 AMP is more sensitive to changes in acute airway inflammation than is PC20 methacholine, further reinforcing the notion that PC20 AMP can be a useful tool for monitoring the effects of antiinflammatory therapy.