Kinins are generated in nasal secretions during allergic reactions and during induced rhinovirus colds. To determine if kinins may contribute to the symptomatology of these inflammatory reactions, 8 subjects were challenged with increasing doses of bradykinin or with placebo. Levels of albumin, histamine, and N-alpha-tosyl-L-arginine methyl ester (TAME)-esterase were measured in nasal lavages, and symptom scores were noted. No symptoms or increases in mediators or protein were observed after placebo challenge. Symptom scores increased in a dose-dependent manner, however, in response to bradykinin challenge. Increased symptoms were associated with significant increases in albumin and TAME-esterase activity, but no increases in histamine were observed. Nasal conductance measurements confirmed that bradykinin induces dose-dependent unilateral obstruction in the challenged nostril. Other common symptoms were rhinorrhea and, of particular relevance to rhinovirus infections, a persistent sore throat. We conclude that bradykinin causes increased vascular permeability and rhinitis, which are independent of mast cell mediator release. Kinins may, therefore, contribute to the symptomatology of inflammatory reactions of the upper airways, including the common cold.