Although it is recognized that inhalation of acid aerosols by subjects with asthma can cause bronchoconstriction, the effects of the inhalation of an alkaline aerosol are unknown. When supplemental inflatable restraints (automobile air bags) are deployed an alkaline aerosol is released. This aerosol is composed of particles of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate with some sodium hydroxide. The mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) of the aerosol is approximately 1 micron, and the pH of the aerosol is 9.8 to 10.3. A group of 14 volunteer male subjects with mild asthma inhaled increasing concentrations of this aerosol for 20-min periods of mouth-only tidal ventilation. Pulmonary function tests were performed at baseline (preexposure), after inhalation of room air alone (control), and after each period of inhalation of the aerosol. A total of 5 subjects inhaled aerosols at nominal concentrations of 10, 20, and 40 mg/m3, whereas 11 subjects inhaled aerosols concentrations of approximately 30, 60, and 120 mg/m3. The mean changes in FEV1 and specific airways resistance (SRaw) for the 11 subjects who inhaled the higher concentrations (average highest concentration 126.6 +/- 7.5 mg/m3, mean +/- SEM) were -1.4 +/- 1.9 and +17.5 +/- 8.5%, respectively. Neither change in lung function was clinically or statistically significant. We conclude that the inhalation of relatively high concentrations of this alkaline aerosol by subjects with mild asthma does not result in bronchoconstriction.