Although rhinovirus (RV) infections can cause asthma exacerbations and alter lower airway inflammation and physiology, it is unclear how important bronchial infection is to these processes. To study the kinetics, location, and frequency of RV appearance in lower airway tissues during an acute infection, immunohistochemistry and quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis were used to analyze the presence of virus in cells from nasal lavage, sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial brushings, and biopsy specimens from 19 subjects with an experimental RV serotype 16 (RV16) cold. RV was detected by polymerase chain reaction analysis on cells from nasal lavage and induced sputum samples from all subjects after RV16 inoculation, as well as in 5 of 19 bronchoalveolar lavage cell samples and in 5 of 18 bronchial biopsy specimens taken 4 days after virus inoculation. Immunohistochemistry detected RV16 in 39 and 36% of all biopsy and brushing samples taken 4 and 15 days, respectively, after inoculation. Infected cells were primarily distributed in discrete patches on the epithelium. These results confirm that infection of lower airway tissues is a frequent finding during a cold and further demonstrate a patchy distribution of infected cells, a pattern similar to that reported in upper airway tissues.