Bronchial inflammation is a characteristic of asthma that may be examined indirectly by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Nine normal individuals were compared with 38 age-matched adults with asthma of variable severity to appreciate the importance of cell activation in the severity of asthma. The severity of asthma was appreciated by the clinical score of Aas and the pulmonary function of the patients. FEV1 ranged between 35% and 130% of predicted. The indirect activation of eosinophils (EOSs), mast cells, fibroblasts, and neutrophils was examined by the titration of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), tryptase, hyaluronan (HA), and myeloperoxidase (MPO) by radioimmunoassay in BAL fluid (BALF) and cytology of BALF. In the adults with asthma, there was a significantly increased number of EOSs and a significantly increased level of all mediators but MPO. MPO levels were increased in seven patients only; three of these patients were previous smokers. Only ECP and HA levels were significantly correlated with the severity of asthma. These results demonstrate EOSs, mast cells, and fibroblasts are activated in asthma, whereas the involvement of neutrophils is less clear. There was a significant correlation between ECP and HA levels, suggesting a common activation of EOSs and fibroblasts.