We studied the effect of R-, S- and R,S-albuterol in inhibiting the eosinophil peroxidase (EPO) secretion caused by 10(-10) to 10(-6) M formyl-met-leu-phe + 5 micrograms/ml cytochalasin B (FMLP/CB) in non-allergic and allergic subjects. Total RAST score obtained for allergic subjects was 4.12 +/- 0.21 vs 0.36 +/- 0.17 for non-allergic subjects (P < 0.0001). Stimulated EPO secretion was comparable in allergic [2,051 +/- 567 ng/10(6) eosinophils (eos)] and non-allergic subjects [2,337 +/- 488 ng/10(6) eos (P = NS)]. At all concentrations used, both R- and R,S-enantiomers caused comparable (27-32%) inhibition of FMLP/CB stimulated secretion of EPO in allergic and non-allergic subjects. Pretreatment with S-albuterol caused no augmentation of EPO secretion in either allergic (115 +/- 34.6%) or non-allergic subjects (114 +/- 23.7%) subjects, and there was no significant difference in secretion caused by FMLP/CB alone in either experimental group. Similar results were obtained for subjects stratified according to serum IgE concentration. Our data demonstrate that both R- and R,S-albuterol are equivalently effective in inhibiting stimulated secretion of EPO in both normal and allergic subjects and that there is no paradoxical augmenting effect of S-albuterol in stimulated eosinophil secretion.