Histamine is a well-known mediator eliciting a broad range of responses in different cell types. Four different subtypes of G protein-coupled histamine receptors (H1-H4) have been cloned and pharmacologically characterized. However, involvement of the different histamine receptor subtypes in immunomodulatory functions of bronchial epithelium has only been investigated marginally. The expression and function of histamine receptor subtypes on the human bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B was analyzed by PCR, intracellular Ca++ -measurements and ELISA. We show mRNA expression of the histamine receptor subtypes H1, H2, and H3, but not H4 in the human bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B. Using intracellular Ca++ -measurements, we demonstrated functional expression of the H1 and H3 receptors. To characterize the biological properties of histamine in airway epithelial biology, we also investigated its effects on cytokine secretion by BEAS-2B cells. Thereby, we were able to show up-regulation of the proinflammatory mediators IL-6 and CXCL8/ IL-8 via activation of the H1, H2 and H3 receptor subtypes. The Th1 cytokines CXCL9/MIG and CXCL10/IP-10 and the chemokine CCL5/RANTES were regulated in a distinct manner: Whereas histamine inhibited the IFN-gamma/TNF-alpha-induced secretion of MIG via the histamine receptor subtypes H1, H2, and H3, the histamine-induced suppression of RANTES was due to activation of the H2 and H3 receptors, while reduction of cytokine-triggered IP-10 secretion was mediated only by triggering the H2 receptor. In summary our data provide evidence that histamine released during allergic lung diseases exerts regulatory influence on airway epithelial cells.