1 The aims of the present study were to characterize the cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) isoenzyme activities present in human bronchi and to examine the ability of selective isoenzyme inhibitors to relax histamine and methacholine precontracted preparations of human bronchi. 2 Three separations of pooled human bronchial tissue samples were performed. Ion-exchange chromatography showed that the soluble fraction of human bronchial preparations contains PDE I, II, III, IV and V isoenzyme activities. Multiple forms of PDE I and PDE IV were observed and PDE IV was the main cyclic AMP hydrolytic activity. 3 3-Isobutyl-l-methylxanthine (IBMX) non-selectively inhibited all separated isoenzyme activities. Zaprinast selectively inhibited PDE V, but also effectively inhibited one of the two PDE I isoforms identified. The PDE IV selective inhibitors rolipram and RO-201724, inhibited the PDE IV activities as did the dual PDE III/IV inhibitor, Org 30029. Org 9935, a PDE III selective inhibitor, potently attenuated part of the PDE IV activity peak in one of three separations performed, indicating that some PDE III activity may co-elute with PDE IV under the experimental conditions employed. 4 PDE IV-selective (rolipram), PDE III-selective (Org 9935) and dual PDE III/IV (Org 30029) inhibitors were effective relaxants of human bronchial smooth muscle. The PDE V/PDE I inhibitor, zaprinast was relatively ineffective. 5 The present study demonstrates in human bronchi, as in animal airways smooth muscle, that inhibitors of PDE III, PDEIV and dual PDE III/IV have potentially useful bronchodilator activity and are worthy of further consideration as anti-asthma drugs.