Experimental studies have demonstrated that induction of a nasal allergic reaction can lead to an increase in bronchial responsiveness (BR). To assess the clinical relevance of these experimental changes to chronic asthma, we sought to determine the effect of nasal beclomethasone dipropionate (Bdp) on BR in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma. Eighteen subjects with histories of seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma during the fall pollen season with positive skin tests to short ragweed and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to inhaled methacholine were assigned to receive either nasal Bdp (336 micrograms/day) or placebo for the entire ragweed season. Patients recorded daily nasal and chest symptoms, nasal blockage index, oral peak expiratory flow rates, and supplemental medication use. BR to methacholine was measured during the baseline period and 6 weeks into the ragweed season. Although the Bdp group did have a significant improvement in nasal blockage index, there was no improvement in daily asthma symptom scores, oral peak expiratory flow, or asthma medication use. However, subjects treated with Bdp were protected from the increase in BR seen in the placebo group (geometric mean PC20 placebo group: baseline = 0.70, week 6 = 0.29; Bdp group: baseline = 0.80, week 6 = 0.93; intergroup difference, p = 0.022). We conclude that nasal corticosteroid therapy can prevent the increase in BR associated with seasonal pollen exposure in patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma.