The aim of this study was to investigate the pulmonary administration of antibiotics as dry powder to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), as an alternative for nebulization. This part of the study describes the development of a powder formulation with colistin sulfate as model substance. The aim of the new dosage form was to increase pulmonary deposition, therapeutic efficiency and, by that, compliance by the CF patients. A physical powder mixture of colistin and a size fraction of lactose (106-150 microm) was prepared and the mixture was optimized with respect to colistin content (83.3%) for use in a special test inhaler. A laser diffraction apparatus with special inhaler adapter was applied for analysis of the size distribution of the aerosol cloud from the inhaler. The size distributions of the aerosol clouds from the test inhaler at flow rates between 30 and 60 l/min for the optimized formulation showed nearly the same median diameter as that for the primary drug particles. But the X(100)-value was much lower, because of an effective large particle separation from the inspiratory air by an air classifier in the test inhaler. The results suggest that dry powder inhalation might be a suitable and highly efficient alternative for nebulization of antibiotic drugs in CF therapy.