To determine the systemic absorption of epinephrine when it is given by inhalation, six normal volunteers were given 15 puffs, followed by 30 puffs, of epinephrine from a pressurized aerosol (160 micrograms epinephrine/puff). The peak mean (+/- SE) plasma epinephrine levels were 1.50 (+/- 0.61) and 4.22 (+/- 1.93) nmol/L 1 minute after each dose, respectively. The effect on physiologic finger tremor correlated with the plasma epinephrine level and returned to baseline 20 minutes after taking the higher dose. There was a small fall in mean plasma potassium levels of 0.45 mmol/L and a small rise in plasma glucose levels of 0.81 mmol/L. On a separate occasion an injection of 0.3 ml of 1/1000 (300 micrograms) epinephrine was given subcutaneously to the same individuals. This caused a peak plasma epinephrine level of 2.43 (+/- 0.47) nmol/L at 10 minutes, and this was still raised at 2.05 (+/- 0.41) nmol/L after 40 minutes. The maximum fall in the mean plasma potassium level was 0.43 mmol/L after the injection.