The effect of treatment of allergic rhinitis with intranasal corticosteroids on lower airway responsiveness was assessed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Twenty-one young patients with perennial allergic rhinitis and asthma, with documented lower airway hyperresponsiveness (PC20 methacholine < 8 mg/ml), were treated with intranasal aqueous beclomethasone dipropionate and placebo, each given for 4 weeks. Patients recorded rhinitis and asthma symptom scores and monitored peak expiratory flow rates every morning and evening. Patients recorded global assessment of rhinitis and global asthma symptom scores at the beginning and end of each treatment. PC20 methacholine was performed at baseline and at the end of each treatment period. Intranasal beclomethasone dipropionate significantly reduced global rhinitis symptom scores (p = 0.05) after 4 weeks of treatment. Global asthma scores did not change significantly (p = 0.2). Geometric mean PC20 methacholine improved significantly after 4 weeks of intranasal beclomethasone, but not after placebo (p = 0.04). Daily morning and evening rhinitis symptom scores were lower in patients treated with intranasal corticosteroids over the first 4 weeks of treatment, but carryover effect of steroids precluded comparative analysis of the second 4-week block (morning p = 0.06, evening p = 0.03). Morning asthma scores tended to decrease (p = 0.07). Evening asthma scores were significantly decreased at weeks 2 and 3 (p = 0.001, p = 0.02, respectively). No change in peak expiratory flow rate was seen. This study confirms that treatment of inflammation in the upper airways indirectly improves asthma symptoms and decreases bronchial hyperreactivity. Ignoring inflammation in the upper airway may lead to suboptimal results in asthma treatment.