Evidence from both epidemiological and laboratory-based studies suggests that increased exposure to liquid petroleum and gas-derived air pollutants [nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone, and respirable particulate matter] may play a role in the clinical manifestation of both allergic and non-allergic airway disease. The mechanisms and cell types involved in pollutant-mediated effects in the airways, however, are not clear. In vitro studies have suggested that human fibroblasts, B-lymphocytes, alveolar macrophages, and epithelial cells/cell lines may be involved. Studies of fibroblasts and macrophages have demonstrated that exposure to ozone results in decreased cell viability and increased release of pro-inflammatory mediators from macrophages. Similarly, studies of B-lymphocytes have demonstrated that exposure to diesel exhaust particles (DEP) enhances the synthesis of immunoglobulin E by these cells. The airway epithelial cells have received the greatest attention in mechanistic studies of air pollution-induced airway disease and suggest that these cells are likely to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of airways disease. Various studies have demonstrated that exposure of nasal or bronchial epithelial cells to NO2, ozone, and DEP results in significant synthesis and release of pro-inflammatory mediators, including eicosanoids, cytokines, and adhesion molecules. Additionally, evidence suggests that epithelial cells of atopic individuals release significantly greater amounts of cytokines such as granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, and regulated on activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted (RANTES), on exposure to NO2 and ozone. Studies investigating the biological relevance of epithelial cell-derived pro-inflammatory mediators have shown that these enhance eosinophil chemotaxis and eosinophil adherence to endothelial cells, suggesting that pollution-induced inflammation of the airways is likely to be influenced by modulation of epithelial synthesis and release of these mediators.