A radiotracer technique has been used to assess the effects of a 700-ml collapsible holding chamber (InspirEase, Key Pharmaceuticals Inc.) on the deposition of metered-dose aerosols in ten patients with obstructive airways disease (mean forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1], 64.5 percent of predicted). Patterns of deposition obtained by patients' usual techniques with the metered-dose inhaler (MDI) were compared with those by correct MDI technique (actuation coordinated with slow deep inhalation and followed by ten seconds of breath-holding) and with those by InspirEase. Deposition of aerosol was assessed by placing Teflon particles labelled with 99mTc inside placebo canisters, and inhaling maneuvers were monitored by respiratory inductive plethysmography (Respitrace). Nine of the ten patients had imperfect technique with the MDI, the most prevalent errors being rapid inhalation and failure to hold their breath adequately. With patients' usual MDI techniques, 6.5 +/- 1.2 percent (mean +/- SE) of the dose reached the lungs. This was increased to 11.2 +/- 1.3 percent (p less than 0.02) with correct technique and increased further to 14.8 +/- 1.4 percent (p less than 0.05) with InspirEase. Oropharyngeal deposition exceeded 80 percent of the dose for the MDI alone but was only 9.5 +/- 0.9 percent with InspirEase (p less than 0.01); 59.2 +/- 2.1 percent of the dose was retained within InspirEase itself. It is concluded that InspirEase gives whole lung deposition of metered-dose aerosols greater than that from a correctly used MDI, while oropharyngeal deposition is reduced approximately nine times.