1. The effects of the beta 2-adrenoceptor agonists, salbutamol and formoterol, on the increase of microvascular permeability induced by histamine or bradykinin in guinea-pig airways have been studied in vivo. Extravasation of intravenously injected Evans blue dye was used as an index of permeability. The effects of salbutamol and formoterol on the increase in pulmonary airway resistance induced by histamine or bradykinin have also been studied. 2. The increase in pulmonary airway resistance induced by histamine or bradykinin was totally inhibited by salbutamol and formoterol. The ED50 of the two mediators were 0.59 +/- 0.21 (n = 5) and 0.20 +/- 0.14 (n = 5) micrograms kg-1 respectively for salbutamol, and 0.13 +/- 0.12 (n = 6) and 0.02 +/- 0.01 (n = 6) micrograms kg-1 respectively for formoterol. 3. Salbutamol (10 and 30 micrograms kg-1) and formoterol (1 and 10 micrograms kg-1) inhibited the increase of microvascular permeability induced by histamine (30 micrograms kg-1) in the guinea-pig airways. The inhibitory effect was predominant in the trachea and the main bronchi, with a maximum inhibition of 20 to 50%. The two drugs had little or no inhibitory effect on the other structures studied, viz. nasal mucosa, larynx, proximal and distal intrapulmonary airways. 4. Salbutamol and formoterol (1 and 10 micrograms kg-1) abolished the increase in microvascular permeability induced by bradykinin (0.3 micrograms kg-1). This inhibitory effect of two beta-adrenoceptor stimulants was predominant in the trachea and the nasal mucosa where it was observed with 1 microgram kg-1 of the beta-adrenoceptor agonists.In the main bronchi, and in the proximal and distal intrapulmonary airways, the effects of bradykinin were abolished by 10 pg kg- of formoterol and salbutamol.5. The effects of bradykinin, but not those of histamine, were significantly reduced (nasal mucosa, main bronchi and distal intrapulmonary airways) or abolished (trachea, proximal intrapulmonary airways) by morphine 10mgkg-1, i.v. These results suggest that an indirect effect, through non-adrenergic noncholinergic (NANC) nerves is involved in the action of bradykinin on the microvascular permeability.6. In conclusion, intravenously injected beta-adrenoceptor stimulants can inhibit, partially or totally, the increase of airways microvascular permeability induced by intravenous histamine or bradykinin. However, these effects require doses that are higher than those that inhibit the increase in pulmonary airway resistance induced by these mediators. As suggested by the results obtained with morphine, the higher efficacy of beta2-adrenoceptor agonists versus bradykinin may occur through activation of presynaptic receptors of the non-adrenergic non-cholinergic (NANC) nerves preventing release of inflammatory neuropeptides such as substance P and neurokinin A.