A double blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study was performed to determine the effect of cetirizine, an H1 antihistamine, on the immediate nasal allergic response. Ten persons underwent nasal challenge with antigen after premedication with 20 mg of cetirizine or placebo QD for 2 days. The response was monitored by counting the number of sneezes and by measuring the levels of histamine, prostaglandin D2, leukotriene C4, albumin, and TAME-esterase activity in recovered nasal lavages. The results showed a significant reduction in sneezing and in the amounts of recovered albumin, TAME-esterase activity, and leukotriene C4 but no reduction in the amounts of recovered histamine and prostaglandin D2. These results suggest that cetirizine does not inhibit mast cell activation but inhibits the consequences of the released histamine on H1 receptors: sneezing and increased vascular permeability. The results further suggest that mast cell release of histamine is the direct result of antigen stimulation, as opposed to reflex activation, and that other cells in addition to mast cells generate leukotrienes during the early allergic response.