Thirty-nine male and 35 female subjects, aged 6 to 20 years, with chronic cough were studied with spirometry and standard methacholine (MCH) challenge. The duration of their cough before the MCH challenge ranged from 2 months to 13 years. Their FEV1 ranged 62% to 132% predicted. Thirty-six (49%) patients had a positive MCH challenge. The MCH concentration inhaled to decrease the FEV1 by 20% ranged from 0.55 to 25 mg/ml. Follow-up data (mean 14 months) were available on all 74 patients. Fifty-four patients received asthma medications, and 93% improved in mean 3.6 weeks. At the end of the follow-up, 22 (30%) were asymptomatic, 39 (53%) were improved, and 13 patients (17%) were symptomatic. We were unable to predict bronchial hyperreactivity in this population on the basis of duration of the cough, personal or family history of allergies, or baseline spirometry. Thus, MCH challenge is helpful in evaluating children with chronic cough and in guiding therapy. Follow-up of children with chronic cough is important. Eleven percent of this study population progressed to develop bronchial asthma. Forty percent of these patients, initially doing well, were asymptomatic at the end of the follow-up period.