Bronchial reactivity was assessed in 66 children with bronchial asthma (aged 8-15 years) by provocation with histamine-HCl during a symptom-free period. A significant bronchial reaction to histamine was defined as a 50% increase in the resistance of the respiratory system (Rrs) determined by the forced oscillation technique. The provocative dose causing a 50% increase in the Rrs (PD50Rrs) was interpolated from the log dose-response curve. The mean PD50Rrs was significantly lower in children with asthma (0.22 mg/mL) compared with a group of healthy children in the same age range (1.55 mg/mL) (P < 0.001). In children with clinically severe asthma, the mean PD50Rrs was lower (0.13 mg/mL) than in children with mild asthma (0.34 mg/mL) (P < 0.001). Transcutaneous PO2 (PtcO2) was monitored in 25 of the children with asthma. In this group the proportion of mild and severe asthma, the baseline lung function variables, and the PD50Rrs were not significantly different from those of the whole group of children. During the reaction, the PtcO2 fell on average by 29% of the baseline value (P < 0.001); in 88% of the children, the fall in PtcO2 was 20% or more of the baseline value. We conclude that histamine provocation tests using the forced oscillation technique and transcutaneous PO2 to assess a bronchial reaction have a good discriminatory capacity for different degrees of clinical severity of asthma in children.