Exhaled nitiric oxide (NO) is increased in exhaled breath of asthmatic patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the longitudinal changes of exhaled NO outside and during the pollen season in pollen-allergic asthmatic children. Twenty-one children (age 6 to 16 yr), with a seasonal allergic asthma sensitive to grass pollen, underwent measurements of exhaled NO and pulmonary function before (March), during (May), and after (November) the pollen season. Exhaled NO was measured by a tidal breathing method with a chemiluminescence analyzer and NO steady-state levels were recorded. The timing of the measurements during the pollen season was based on the atmospheric pollen count. Exhaled NO values of asthmatic children were compared with those of 21 sex- and age-matched healthy children. Pulmonary function and symptoms of asthma were also evaluated at each visit. The mean value of exhaled NO before the grass season was 12.7 +/- 5.1 ppb (mean +/- SD), significantly higher when compared with controls (7.8 +/- 2.7 ppb, p < 0.001). In the pollen season there was a significant (p < 0.001) twofold increase in exhaled NO (21.4 +/- 7.6 ppb) that, after the season, returned to values similar (12.8 +/- 5.8 ppb, p = NS) to those found before the season. There were no significant changes in FEV1 before and during the season (98.6% predicted versus 101% predicted, p = NS). We conclude that natural allergen exposure is related to an increase of exhaled NO in asthmatic grass pollen-allergic children even in absence of significant changes in airways function. We speculate that measurement of exhaled NO could be a sensitive noninvasive marker of asthma disease activity.