The response of peripheral neutrophils was studied in 16 patients with allergic asthma after challenge with birch/grass pollen allergen, in order to identify inflammatory markers associated with only the early asthmatic reaction and those associated with both early and late asthmatic reactions. The allergen challenge proceeded until the patients had an early asthmatic reaction with 100% increase in specific airway resistance. Bronchoconstriction after allergen challenge was monitored hourly over 9 h and finally after 18 h, by measurement of the forced expiratory volume in 1 s. Seven patients had a late reaction, defined as a decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 s of more than 15%. Blood samples were taken before and 18 h after challenge. After allergen challenge (18 h) the blood concentration of neutrophils in patients with a late asthmatic reaction was 1.4 times higher than before challenge and there was a tendency for increased Fc gamma receptor-mediated chemiluminescence. Lewis X-antigen (CD 15), which is associated with endothelial adhesion and extravasation, significantly decreased at the same time. Neutrophils were incubated with the tetrapeptide arginine-glycine-aspartate-serine before and 18 h after allergen challenge. Both patient groups showed an increased Fc gamma receptor-mediated chemiluminescence and a decreased Fc gamma receptor membrane expression following allergen challenge, suggesting a preactivation. In conclusion, patients with a dual asthmatic reaction show a sustained primed inflammatory response and primed neutrophils compared with patients with only an early reaction when measured after the decline of clinical symptoms provoked by allergen challenge.