Orally or intravenously administered beta 2-adrenergic drugs have been found to inhibit esophageal motor function. Since inhalation of these drugs results in less systemic side effects, the present double-blind study was designed to investigate the influence of inhalation of the beta 2-adrenergic agonist albuterol (salbutamol) on esophageal motor function and gastroesophageal reflux in ten healthy volunteers. Esophageal motor function was recorded using a pneumohydraulically perfused multilumen manometry tube. Twenty-four-hour pH profiles were measured while the volunteers were ambulatory using a combined glass electrode connected to a portable recorder. Inhalation decreased neither lower esophageal sphincter pressure nor esophageal peristaltic amplitudes. Gastroesophageal reflux was similar on both occasions during inhalation of albuterol (3.1% [range, 1.0% to 25.5%] median upright time, with esophageal pH less than 4; and 0.1% [range, 0.0% to 10.7%] supine time) and during placebo treatment (3.6% [range, 1.6% to 19.8%] upright and 0.0% [range, 0.0% to 2.5%] supine time). Our data support the study of inhalation of beta 2-adrenergic drugs in asthmatic patients with accompanying gastroesophageal reflux.