We report a sentinel case of acute eosinophilic pneumonia in a firefighter exposed to high concentrations of World Trade Center dust during the rescue effort from September 11 to 24. The firefighter presented with a Pa(O2) of 53 mm Hg and responded to oxygen and corticosteroids. Computed tomography scan showed patchy ground glass density, thickened bronchial walls, and bilateral pleural effusions. Bronchoalveolar lavage recovered 70% eosinophils, with only 1% eosinophils in peripheral blood. Eosinophils were not degranulated and increased levels of interleukin-5 were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage and serum. Mineralogic analysis counted 305 commercial asbestos fibers/10(6) macrophages including those with high aspect ratios, and significant quantities of fly ash and degraded fibrous glass. Acute eosinophilic pneumonia is a rare consequence of acute high dust exposure. World Trade Center dust consists of large particle-size silicates, but fly ash and asbestos fibers may be found in bronchoalveolar lavage cells.