The effect of inhaled salmeterol xinafoate, a long acting beta 2 agonist, on exercise induced asthma was studied in a double blind, crossover, and placebo controlled trial. Thirteen asthmatic children with a fall of at least 15% in their forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) after a standard exercise test on a motorised treadmill, on separate days performed the same test 1, 5, and 9 hours after a single dose of 50 micrograms salmeterol or placebo. FEV1 was measured before treatment, and before and for 30 minutes after each exercise test. After placebo the number of children with exercise induced asthma was: 10 at 1 hour, 11 at 5 hours, and 12 at 9 hours. Salmeterol prevented exercise induced asthma in all 13 children studied, at 1, 5, and 9 hours. Mean maximum falls in FEV1 after exercise were at 1 hour: salmeterol 2.7% and placebo 24.6%, 5 hours: salmeterol 5.3% and placebo 22.7%; and 9 hours: salmeterol 3.4% and placebo 26.6%. After salmeterol the mean increase in FEV1 was 17.8% at 1 hour, 19.6% at 5 hours, and 19.2% at 9 hours. Inhaled salmeterol prevents exercise induced asthma and produces significant bronchodilatation for at least 9 hours.