Ro 25-1553 is a 31-amino acid analogue of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and has recently been shown to be highly selective for the VPAC(2)-receptor. The bronchodilating property of this compound was evaluated in vitro on preparations of guinea-pig trachea, with the long-acting beta(2)-adrenoceptor selective agonist, formoterol, as a reference. In strip-preparations precontracted with carbachol, Ro 25-1553 caused a concentration-dependent and complete relaxation of the tracheal smooth muscle. Ro 25-1553 was 3-7 times less potent than formoterol on a molar basis, but the efficacy was comparable with that of formoterol. Both compounds showed a rapid onset of action and a similar durability of effect. Ro 25-1553 appeared to interact with formoterol as well as with salmeterol in an additive way. In vagus nerve-trachea tube preparations, when added to the external medium, Ro 25-1553 concentration-dependently and completely inhibited nerve-induced contractions. This occurred in the same concentration range as needed for relaxation of precontracted strips. Ro 25-1553 was active also when administered into the tracheal lumen albeit the concentration had to be increased. The present study supports and extends previous results suggesting that Ro 25-1553 may be a powerful alternative to the beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists which prevail today.