Increased numbers of eosinophils and mast cells in the bronchial mucosa are characteristic features in subjects with aspirin-sensitive asthma. Interleukin-5 (IL-5) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) are involved in the activation, maturation, and perpetuation of survival of eosinophils. Immunohistochemical techniques were therefore used to study the expression of IL-5 and GM-CSF on frozen bronchial biopsies from 13 aspirin-sensitive asthmatic (ASA) and 8 non-ASA (NASA) subjects. Aspirin sensitivity was diagnosed by lysine-aspirin inhalation provocation. ASA airways demonstrated a significant 2-fold increase in the total number of submucosal inflammatory cells expressing IL-5 (p = 0.03) and approximate 4- and 2-fold increases in the numbers of mast cells expressing IL-5 and GM-CSF (p = 0.02 and p = 0.04, respectively). There was also a 4-fold increase in the number of eosinophils expressing IL-5 (p = 0.004). These results suggest a central role for the mast cell and eosinophil in regulation of the inflammatory cell infiltrate of ASA airways by secretion of the hemopoietic cytokines IL-5 and GM-CSF.