Nasal passage geometry was measured by acoustic rhinometry in 8 healthy medical students (5 males and 3 females, 21-29 years old; mean age 24 years) after 6 min in different postures of head and body. The minimum cross-sectional area (A-min) and volume between the nostril and 7 cm posteriorly were measured on both sides. When changing from sitting to horizontal the total airway dimension (i.e., the sum of A-min for the two sides) decreased by about 16% (Mean +/- SD = 0.19 +/- 0.14 cm2), and when standing up it increased by about 12% (0.14 +/- 0.13 cm2). A-min seemed more sensitive than volume to detecting postural changes. Including the variation between the cavities, the coefficient of variation (CV = SD/Mean) for area was 24.8 +/- 6.7 and for volume 22.4 +/- 6.4 for the 8 subjects. For the total nasal airway passage the corresponding figures were 12.9 +/- 3.9 and 10.9 +/- 5.5. These figures are considerably higher than for subjects measured only in the sitting position under comparable circumstances. In conclusion, our findings indicate a composite response of the nasal cavity mucosa to both systemic (hydrostatic) and local conditions, probably induced by vascular and cutaneous reflexes. These factors must be taken into account in studies of environmental, clinical, and pharmacological conditions.