Ten subjects with asthma inhaled 3.6 micron particles labeled with 111In in air and in a helium-oxygen mixture (He-O2) at 0.5 and at 1.2 L/s. Lung retention was measured after zero and after 24 h, and the percentage 24-h retention (Ret24) was taken to represent the fraction deposited in the alveolar part of the lung. For both inhalation rates, Ret24 was significantly higher when particles were inhaled with He-O2 than with air. The increase in Ret24 seemed to be larger in subjects with asthma than in healthy persons earlier studied. Ret24 was correlated with changes in both large and small airways, especially when the particles were inhaled with He-O2. Our data suggest that inhalation of drugs in He-O2 might be of therapeutic value when treating patients with severely obstructed airways.