We have investigated the effect of inhaled platelet-activating factor (PAF) on bronchial mucosal inflammation in 6 atopic non-asthmatic subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised and crossover study. On 2 study periods at least 4 weeks apart, fiberoptic bronchoscopy was performed 24 h after inhalation of either 200 micrograms PAF or methacholine (control) to obtain endobronchial biopsies. Immunocytochemistry using antibodies for trypase (AA1) and eosinophil cationic protein (EG2) was performed to enumerate mast cells and eosinophils, respectively, in the bronchial submucosa. Median values of AA1+ cells and EG2+ cells did not differ significantly after inhalation of PAF or control (23.8 vs. 39 and 6 vs. 8/mm2, respectively, PAF vs. control, non-significant). Our findings suggest that within 24 h of inhaling a bronchoconstrictor dose of PAF, this agonist does not induce bronchial hyperresponsiveness or mucosal inflammation in atopic non-asthmatic subjects. However, because of the small number of subjects studied, these preliminary data should be interpreted with caution.