In a 26-wk double-blind controlled study of 34 patients whose asthma had been poorly controlled despite oral steroids, valuable clinical and pulmonary function improvement was derived by adding beclomethasone aerosol to the prednisone regimen. The amount of improvement correlated linearly with beclomethasone dosage over the range 200 to 1,600 microng/day. These patients required relatively high dosage. Success in achieving asymptomatic status was only 26% with the conventional 400 microng/day and 60% at 1,600 microng/day. Oropharyngeal candidiasis was also dose-related but did not prohibit the use of high-dosage beclomethasone. Respiratory infections, physical signs, blood glucose, and electrolytes were unaffected by the drug. A dose-related suppression of cortisol secretion was demonstrated, but about 1/4 of the group had normal plasma cortisol even at 1,600 microng/day plus the oral prednisone. An individualized risk-benefit assessment seems a better basis for choosing an optimal beclomethasone regimen for each patient than adherence to a conventionalized fixed dosage of 400 microng/day. This requires definition of: (1) a specific goal of treatment in the individual patient and the beclomethasone dosage required to achieve it; (2) the adrenocortical functional response of that particular patient to the desired dose of beclomethasone; and (3) the presence and degree of any dose-limiting constraints such as preexisting complications of steroid use.