We measured detailed regional deposition patterns of inhaled particles in healthy adult male (n = 11; 25 +/- 4 yr of age) and female (n = 11; 25 +/- 3 yr of age) subjects by means of a serial bolus aerosol delivery technique for monodisperse fine [particle diameter (Dp) = 1 micron] and coarse aerosols (Dp = 3 and 5 micron). The bolus aerosol (40 ml half-width) was delivered to a specific volumetric depth (Vp) of the lung ranging from 100 to 500 ml with a 50-ml increment, and local deposition fraction (LDF) was assessed for each of the 10 local volumetric regions. In all subjects, the deposition distribution pattern was very uneven with respect to Vp, showing characteristic unimodal curves with respect to particle size and flow rate. However, the unevenness was more pronounced in women. LDF tended to be greater in all regions of the lung in women than in men for Dp = 1 micron. For Dp = 3 and 5 micron, LDF showed a marked enhancement in the shallow region of Vp </= 200 ml in women compared with men (P < 0.05). LDF in women was comparable to or smaller than those of men in deep lung regions of Vp > 200 ml. Total lung deposition was comparable between men and women for fine particles but was consistently greater in women than men for coarse particles regardless of flow rates used: the difference ranged from 9 to 31% and was greater with higher flow rates (P < 0.05). The results indicate that 1) particle deposition characteristics differ between healthy men and women under controlled breathing conditions and 2) deposition in women is greater than that in men.