Rhinovirus-14, suspended in tryptose phosphate broth supplemented with uranine (physical tracer) and an antifoam, was aerosolized by use of a Collison nebulizer. The aerosols were held in a rotating drum with the relative humidity at either the low (30 +/- 5%), medium (50 +/- 5%), or high (80 +/- 5%) level at 20 +/- 1 degrees C. An all-glass impinger was used to recover the virus from the air in the drum, with the first air sample being collected after a 15-min period of aerosol stabilization. Subsequent air samples were withdrawn at 2, 4, 8, and 14 h after stabilization of the aerosol. At the low and medium relative humidity levels, the infectivity of the airborne virus was rapidly lost and less than 0.25% could be detected in the first air sample. At the high RH level, however, the airborne virus had a half-life of 13.7 +/- 1.91 h and nearly 30% of the input infectious virus could be detected in the drum air even after 24 h of aerosolization. These findings suggest that under certain environmental conditions, notably high relative humidity, air may act as a vehicle for the spread of rhinovirus infections.