Apart from particle size distribution, spray velocity is one of the most important aerosol characteristics that influence lung deposition of inhaled drugs. The time period over which the aerosol is released (spray duration) is also important for coordination of inhalation. Respimat Soft Mist Inhaler (SMI) is a new generation, propellant-free inhaler that delivers drug to the lung much more efficiently than pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs). The objective of this study was to compare the velocity and spray duration of aerosol clouds produced by Respimat SMI with those from a variety of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) pMDIs. All inhalers contained solutions or suspensions of bronchodilators. A videorecording method was used to determine the aerosol velocity. For spray duration, the time for generation of the Soft Mist by Respimat SMI was initially determined using three different methods (videorecording [techniques A and B], laser light diffraction and rotating disc). Videorecording was then used to compare the spray duration of Respimat SMI with those from the other inhalers. The Soft Mist produced by Respimat SMI moved much more slowly and had a more prolonged duration than aerosol clouds from pMDIs (mean velocity at a 10-cm distance from the nozzle: Respimat SMI, 0.8 m/sec; pMDIs, 2.0-8.4 m/sec; mean duration: Respimat SMI, 1.5 sec; pMDIs, 0.15-0.36 sec). These characteristics should result in improved lung and reduced oropharyngeal deposition, and are likely to simplify coordination of inhaler actuation and inhalation compared with pMDIs.