We have examined the effect of prolonged treatment with topical corticosteroid on allergen-induced early and late nasal responses and the associated inflammatory cell infiltrate in grass pollen sensitive allergic rhinitics. Following a randomized double-blind 6 week treatment period with fluticasone propionate 200 micrograms aqueous nasal spray twice daily or matched placebo spray, nasal provocation was performed using Timothy grass pollen extract. Nasal symptoms were recorded at intervals from 0 to 24 h. Nasal biopsies were performed before treatment and at 24 h after allergen and processed for immunohistology. When corticosteroid-treated patients were compared with the placebo group there was an approximately 50% decrease in the size of the early (0-60 min) response and almost complete inhibition of late (1-24 h) nasal symptoms after allergen challenge. After allergen challenge markedly fewer T lymphocytes and CD25+ (interleukin-2 receptor bearing) cells were observed in both the epithelium and submucosa in fluticasone treated patients compared with the placebo group. Significantly less total and activated eosinophils were observed, particularly within the nasal epithelium. Submucosal mast cell counts were decreased, whereas increased numbers of submucosal neutrophils were observed. These results confirm that topical corticosteroid treatment inhibits allergen-induced early and late nasal responses. This may possibly occur following a decrease in T lymphocytes and/or mast cells and their products and a consequent reduction in tissue eosinophilia.