Recent reports have suggested that low-dose nebulized morphine may improve exercise tolerance in patients with interstitial lung disease (ILD) by acting on peripheral opioid-sensitive pulmonary receptors. We therefore examined whether the administration of low-dose nebulized morphine would influence dyspnea or the breathing pattern during exercise of subjects with ILD and improve their exercise performance. Each of six subjects with ILD underwent three maximal incremental cycle ergometer tests, each test separated from the last by at least 3 d. Each exercise test was similar except that 30 min before exercise, the subjects received nebulized saline (control), morphine 2.5 mg, or morphine 5.0 mg, respectively, in double-blinded fashion. No significant differences were noted in exercise duration, maximal workload, or sense of dyspnea at the end of exercise in the control test and the tests with either morphine 2.5 mg or morphine 5.0 mg. Nor were significant differences noted in resting, submaximal, or end-exercise measurements of oxygen uptake (VO2), carbon dioxide output (VCO2), end-tidal CO2 (PETCO2), oxygen saturation (SaO2), minute ventilation (VI), respiratory frequency (f), tidal volume (VT), or heart rate (HR) in the three tests. Low-dose nebulized morphine did not alter the subjects' breathing pattern or affect the relationship between dyspnea and ventilation during exercise. No significant side effects were noted. The administration of low-dose nebulized morphine to subjects with ILD neither relieves their dyspnea during exercise nor improves their maximal exercise performance.