Toxins that slow ciliary beat are virulence determinants of bacteria that infect or invade ciliated epithelial surfaces. We have previously shown that the effect of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa toxin pyocyanin on ciliary beat is associated with a fall in intracellular cAMP and ATP. We have now investigated whether reduction in intracellular adenosine nucleotides might be a common mechanism of action of other bacterial toxins which slow ciliary beat. Two other P. aeruginosa toxins, 1-hydroxyphenazine (1-HP) and rhamnolipid, and two Haemophilus influenzae fractions produced by gel filtration of broth cultures were tested. The effect on human nasal epithelium ciliary beat frequency (CBF), and intracellular cAMP and ATP were measured, and the effect of two pharmacological agents, dibutyryl cAMP and salmeterol, on these changes was assessed. 1-HP, rhamnolipid and the two H. influenzae fractions slowed CBF before there was significant release of lactate dehydrogenase from the cells. The toxins also caused a fall in intracellular cAMP and ATP. Dibutyryl cAMP and salmeterol at the concentrations used do not increase baseline CBF, but diminished the fall in CBF and intracellular adenosine nucleotides. The cAMP and ATP levels in these studies were combined with those previously obtained with pyocyanin. there was a good correlation between cAMP and ATP levels and CBF. Bacterial toxins which slow CBF may act by causing a fall in intracellular adenosine nucleotides, and agents which stimulate cAMP may prevent toxin-induced slowing of ciliary beat.