Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) frequently report nasal symptoms. In the present study, we have examined whether or not COPD is associated with any nasal inflammation. Plasma exudation evoked by histamine challenges has been employed to improve the recovery of inflammatory indices in nasal lavage fluids. In 23 COPD-patients and 26 healthy subjects, all without history or signs of allergic rhinitis, nasal polyposis, or chronic rhinosinusitis, nasal saline-lavages were performed with and without histamine. alpha2-Macroglobulin, fucose, eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) were determined as indices of plasma exudation, mucinous secretion, eosinophil activity and neutrophil activity, respectively. The difference in MPO-levels between the histamine and the saline lavage was greater in COPD patients compared with healthy subjects (P<0.05). Also, COPD patients reporting nasal symptoms presented an increase in MPO at histamine challenge (P<0.05, cf. saline) and greater differences in MPO and fucose, respectively, between the histamine and the saline lavage (P<0.05, cf. patients without symptoms). We conclude that COPD is not associated with any marked nasal inflammation. However, our observation on increased MPO-levels at histamine challenge suggests some degree of increased neutrophil activity in this condition. Furthermore, when associated with nasal symptoms, COPD may be associated with an increased nasal secretory responsiveness.