Fire accident victims who sustain both thermal injury to skin and smoke inhalation have gross evidence of systemic and pulmonary oxidant damage and acute lung injury. We hypothesized that gamma-tocopherol (gT), a reactive O(2) and N(2) scavenger, when delivered into the airway, would attenuate lung injury induced by burn and smoke inhalation. Acute lung injury was induced in chronically prepared, anesthetized sheep by 40% total burn surface area, third-degree skin burn and smoke insufflation (48 breaths of cotton smoke, <40 degrees C). The study groups were: (1) Sham (not injured, flaxseed oil (FO)-nebulized, n=6); (2) SA-neb (injured, saline-nebulized, n=6); (3) FO-neb (injured, FO-nebulized, n=6); and (4) gT+FO-neb (injured, gT and FO-nebulized, n=6). Nebulization was started 1 h postinjury, and 24 ml of FO with or without gT (51 mg/ml) was delivered into airways over 47 h using our newly developed lipid aerosolization device (droplet size: 2.5-5 microm). The burn- and smoke inhalation-induced pathological changes seen in the saline group were attenuated by FO nebulization; gT addition further improved pulmonary function. Pulmonary gT delivery along with a FO source may be a novel effective treatment strategy in management of patients with acute lung injury.