We studied the effects of dexamethasone and cyclosporin A on the airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and the influx of inflammatory cells into the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid seen 18 to 24 hr after exposure to aerosolized ovalbumin in actively ovalbumin-sensitized Brown-Norway rats. Allergen exposure resulted in an approximately sevenfold increase in bronchial responsiveness to inhaled acetylcholine associated with a significant increase in eosinophils and lymphocytes in BAL fluid. Dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg administered intraperitoneally for 3 days) abolished the AHR and the increase in eosinophil and lymphocyte counts. However, cyclosporin A at two doses (5 and 50 mg given orally for 5 days) did not significantly prevent the induction of AHR while producing a significant inhibition of the eosinophil and lymphocyte influx. Dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg for 3 days) or cyclosporin A (5 mg/kg for 5 days) on their own had no effect on airway responsiveness. We conclude that specific inhibition of T-lymphocyte activation in this Brown-Norway rat model is not sufficient to inhibit the induction of AHR despite suppressing allergen-induced eosinophilia in BAL fluid. However, corticosteroids, which have inhibitory effects on a wider range of inflammatory cells, are more effective. Our observations are in line with the potent effect of corticosteroids in airway inflammatory conditions such as asthma.