This study evaluated three techniques for testing of lung function in young awake children. We compared measurements by the forced or impulse oscillation technique (IOS), the interrupter technique (IT), and transcutaneous measurements of oxygen (tcPo2) with concomitant measurements of specific airway resistance (sRaw) during methacholine challenge in 20 stable asthmatic children, 2-4 years old. Measurements were performed with all techniques after each dose of methacholine and after inhalation of a bronchodilator. Measurements were carried out during tidal breathing using a face-mask with a built-in mouthpiece. The ranking of sensitivity was as follows: sRaw > IOS, respiratory reactance at 5 Hz (Xrs5) > tcPo2 > interrupter resistance (Rint) > IOS, respiratory resistance at 5 Hz (Rrs5). The sensitivity of sRaw and Xrs5 was not significantly different, but both were significantly more sensitive than Rint and Rrs5; the sensitivity of tcPo2, Rint, and Rrs5 was not significantly different. Measurements in eight of the subjects performed during an episode of acute asthma yielded comparable results in regard to the sensitivity of the techniques. Measurements improved significantly after bronchodilator administration; however, the response to bronchodilator tended to be less during acute asthma and was best demonstrated by a deterioration of tcPo2. All the evaluated techniques reliably reflect short-term changes in respiratory function and can provide clinically useful estimates of airway function. The techniques are non-invasive, are not dependent on the active co-operation or sedation of the subjects, and therefore are well suited for routine use in young children.