There is marked heterogeneity of airway narrowing in intraparenchymal airways in response to bronchoconstricting stimuli. We hypothesized that this heterogeneity results from variations in the structure of the airway wall. Freshly excised dog lung lobes were inflated to transpulmonary pressures (PL) of between 5 and 15 cmH2O, and an aerosol containing a high concentration of carbachol was administered. The lobes were fixed and processed for light-microscopic examination and morphometric analysis of membranous airway dimensions. The relationships of smooth muscle shortening to PL and airway dimensions were analyzed using multiple linear regression. The results show that airway smooth muscle shortening was greater at lower PL and in airways with larger internal perimeter and a greater number of folds per internal perimeter and that it was less in airways with greater inner wall area. We conclude that the magnitude and variability of airway smooth muscle shortening and airway narrowing in response to maximal constricting stimuli are influenced by mechanical factors related to airway wall geometry.