This study aimed to determine whether the route of administration of methacholine (MCh) influenced the pattern of airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) in mice. BALB/c mice were inoculated with a 50-microL volume containing 10(4.5)-pfu Influenza virus A/Mem/1/71(H3N1) or media. MCh responsiveness in vivo [inhaled (0.01-30 mg/mL), i.v. MCh (6-48 microg/min/kg)] and in vitro were measured at day 4 post-infection (D4) during acute lower respiratory infection (LRI) and following resolution of infection at day 20 (D20) using a low-frequency, forced oscillation technique. Inflammation was assessed in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Infected mice had pulmonary inflammation and heightened responsiveness to both inhaled (p<0.03) and intravenous (p<0.02) MCh on D4, but not on D20. In vitro responsiveness was not altered at either time point. Influenza A LRI results in AHR during acute infection associated with a marked inflammatory response and increased permeability of the alveolar-capillary barrier. These data suggest that intrinsic muscle properties are not altered but MCh has greater access to airway smooth muscle during acute infection.