Endotoxins are released from the membrane of Gram-negative bacteria present in the environment and in oral and nasal cavities. They are proinflammatory substances that could participate in bronchial obstruction and hyperreactivity in asthmatic patients. This hypothesis was tested by using bronchial challenge tests with inhaled lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from Escherichia coli 026:B6 (22.2-micrograms total dose) followed by a histamine nonspecific challenge test and compared with a placebo procedure, in which the diluent was substituted for the LPS solution. In doing so we showed that LPS induces a slight but significant (P less than 0.01) bronchial obstruction (measured as forced expiratory volume in 1 s) in asthmatics (n = 8) but not in normal subjects (n = 6). The histamine hyperresponsiveness, expressed as the dosage of histamine necessary to decrease the bronchial specific conductance by 50%, was increased 5 h after LPS inhalation in asthmatics (P less than 0.05) but not in normal subjects. This effect of LPS on bronchial obstruction and hyperresponsiveness was observed in extrinsic (n = 6) as well as in intrinsic (n = 2) asthma.