The duration and magnitude of the effect of inhaled formoterol (12 micrograms) against exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) was compared with that of inhaled salbutamol (200 micrograms) and that of placebo in 15 children with asthma and EIB in a double-blind, double-dummy, within-patient, placebo-controlled study. The treatments were given by metered dose aerosol on three different days. The exercise test was performed at the 3rd and the 12th hour after dosing. The magnitude of the blocking effect was assessed both by evaluating the lowest FEV1 reading obtained within an hour after each exercise test and by considering the percent decrease below the baseline FEV1 measured before drug administration. Comparison of the lowest values obtained during the hour after each exercise test shows that formoterol was significantly better than both salbutamol (p = 0.022), and placebo (p = 0.001) in limiting exercise-induced bronchoconstriction after the first exercise test (3 h after dosing), while no difference was observed between salbutamol and placebo (p = 0.198). After the second exercise test (12 h after dosing), formoterol again proved to be more effective than both salbutamol (p = 0.008) and placebo (p = 0.001), and no significant difference was observed between salbutamol and placebo (p = 0.391). The evaluation of the mean percentage decrease in FEV1 confirmed the results in favor of formoterol in both the exercise tests. No adverse effects were reported in any treatment group. The protection against EIB is significantly more prolonged after formoterol than after salbutamol, and persists for 12 h after dosing.