This single-blind study compared the efficacy of oral forskolin versus inhaled beclomethasone for mild or moderately persistent adult asthma. Patients were randomly assigned to receive forskolin (one 10-mg capsule orally per day; n = 30) or beclomethasone (two 50 microg inhalations every 12 h; n = 30) for 2 months. No statistically significant improvement occurred in any lung function parameter in the forskolin-treated patients. Subjects in the beclomethasone-treated group presented a slight but statistically significant improvement in percentage forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)), percentage forced expiratory flow in the middle (25 - 75%) expiratory phase (FEF(25 - 75%)) and percentage forced vital capacity (FVC) after 2 months of treatment, though the improvement in absolute values for FEV(1), FEF(25 - 75%), FVC and FEV(1):FVC did not reach statistical significance. There was no statistically significant difference between the forskolin and beclomethasone treatment groups for any lung function parameter at baseline or after treatment. None of the beclomethasone-treated patients had an asthma attack and one forskolin-treated patient had a mild asthma attack during the 2-month study period. More studies are needed in adult asthma patients to confirm whether forskolin may be a useful preventive treatment for mild or moderately persistent adult asthma.