Menthol and other aromatic vapours have been widely used in the symptomatic treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, although there is little objective evidence as to their benefit. We have investigated the action of aromatic vapours on the cough reflex in conscious guinea-pigs. Animals (n = 13) were pretreated with air or test vapours for 5 min at a rate of 1 l/min. One minute later the animal was challenged with aerosolized citric acid for 2 min. Control responses to air pretreatment were not significantly different throughout the procedures. Three concentrations of each aromatic vapour were used (3, 10 and 30 micrograms/l menthol, 50, 133 and 500 micrograms/l camphor and 0.8, 2.7 and 8 mg/l cineole). Menthol proved the most effective antitussive--10 and 30 micrograms/l produced a significant 28 and 56% reduction in cough frequency--500 micrograms/l camphor gave a significant 33% reduction, while cineole, at the concentrations used, had no significant effect. An increase in cough latency coincided with a reduction in cough frequency. These results demonstrate the efficacy of aromatic vapours as antitussives in chemically induced cough.