Exercised mdx mice were used to evaluate the efficacy of two pharmacologic entities, cromolyn and compound 48/80. Beginning at 2 weeks of age, mdx mice were treated with either cromolyn (50 mg/kg/day), prednisone (2mg/kg/day), compound 48/80 (1mg/kg/day), or diluent vehicle. At 4 weeks of age, treated mice were subjected to twice weekly, forced treadmill running which has previously been shown to cause expressed weakness in mdx mice (Hudecki, Pollina et al., 1993). Strength was evaluated weekly through 6 weeks of age using a previously described "pull-test" procedure (Hudecki, Pollina et al., 1993). Serum creatine kinase (CK) and mast cell tryptase activities were evaluated from 6 week blood samples. There was a significant increase in strength in mdx mice treated with cromolyn (p < or = 0.05), while no significant increase in strength was found in mice treated with compound 48/80, or prednisone compared to vehicle controls. While no significant change in tryptase activity was found between treatments, CK activity was significantly increased in the cromolyn group compared to vehicle controls. However, when tryptase and CK were expressed as a combined factor (Tryp x CK), the cromolyn treated group was significantly different from all other groups. The results of this study suggest a possible use for cromolyn-like compounds in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.