Victims of fire accidents who sustain both thermal injury to the skin and smoke inhalation have gross evidence of oxidant injury. Therefore, we hypothesized that delivery of vitamin E, an oxygen superoxide scavenger, directly into the airway would attenuate acute lung injury postburn and smoke inhalation. Sheep (N = 17 female, 35 +/- 5 kg) were divided into 3 groups: (1) injured, then nebulized with vitamin E (B&S, Vitamin E, n = 6); (2) injured, nebulized with saline (B&S, Saline, n = 6); and (3) not injured, not treated (Sham, n = 5). While under deep anesthesia with isoflurane, the sheep were subjected to a flame burn (40% total body surface area, 3rd degree) and inhalation injury (48 breaths of cotton smoke, <40 degrees C). All groups were resuscitated with Ringer lactate solution (4 mL/kg/%burn/24 h) and placed on a ventilator [positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) = 5 cm H2O, tidal volume = 15 mL/kg] for 48 h. B&S injury halved the lung alpha-tocopherol concentrations (0.9 +/- 0.1 nmol/g) compared with sham-injured animals (1.5 +/- 0.3), whereas vitamin E treatment elevated the lung alpha-tocopherol concentrations (7.40 +/- 2.61) in the injured animals. B&S injury decreased pulmonary gas exchange (PaO2/FiO2 ratios) from 517 +/- 15 at baseline to 329 +/- 49 at 24 h and to 149 +/- 32 at 48 h compared with sham ratios of 477 +/- 14, 536 +/- 48, and 609 +/- 49, respectively. Vitamin E treatment resulted in a significant improvement of pulmonary gas exchange; ratios were 415 +/- 34 and 283 +/- 42 at 24 and 48 h, respectively. Vitamin E nebulization therapy improved the clinical responses to burn and smoke inhalation-induced acute lung injury.