Topical anti-inflammatory (cutaneous "vasoconstriction") and systemic glucocorticoid (depression of plasma cortisol and changes in differential WBC count) potencies of the two glucocorticoids budesonide and beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) were compared in human volunteers. After topical application, budesonide was 2-3 times more potent than BDP in inducing "vasoconstriction". After oral administration, on the other hand, budesonide was 2-4 times less potent than BDP in depressing plasma cortisol and changing the total or differential WBC. After inhalation, too, significant differences in favour of budesonide were noted, but the divergence between the drugs was less pronounced. The improved relationship between the topical and systemic glucocorticoid effects of budesonide makes it a promising alternative for aerosol treatment in asthma.