Allergic rhinitis is the sixth most prevalent chronic health condition in the United States. To study the pathogenesis of the allergic response, we have used a model of nasal provocation with antigen. During the initial reaction of an allergic subject to allergen provocation, increases occur in the levels of histamine, tryptase, and prostaglandin D2. This pattern of mediator release, combined with histologic evidence of mast-cell degranulation, strongly supports the role of the mast cell in the acute allergic reaction. The response to antigen, however, does not end with mast-cell degranulation. Hours after challenge we observed the spontaneous recurrence of symptoms and increased responsiveness to antigenic and nonantigenic stimuli. Our central hypothesis is that cellular infiltration and activation after antigen challenge are responsible for the observed increase in nasal reactivity. The predominant cells in nasal lavage 24 hours after challenge are eosinophils and neutrophils, whereas the predominant cell in the mucosa is the CD4+ lymphocyte. An early step in the movement of cells from the peripheral blood involves adhesion between circulating leukocytes and the endothelium. Evidence suggests that vascular endothelial adhesion molecule may be responsible in part for the selective adherence of eosinophils to the endothelium.