It was investigated whether an endotoxin-induced airway inflammation and injury correlated with the induction of bronchial hyperreactivity. Guinea pigs were treated with an endotoxin aerosol, and 4 and 24 h later lung lavages were performed and a differential cell count was made. The number of neutrophils and monocytes was significantly increased (p < 0.005) at these times. After 24 h, the number of eosinophils and lymphocytes was also increased (p < 0.005). The number of alveolar macrophages remained unchanged. Histologic examination revealed increased intraluminal mucus and an influx of erythrocytes and neutrophils in the tracheal and bronchial lumen at both time points after the endotoxin aerosol. The epithelium was morphologically changed and contained many neutrophils. Focal matting and/or loss of cilia also occurred. Airway smooth muscle responsiveness was measured in vitro on isolated guinea pig tracheal smooth muscle preparations 4 and 24 h after endotoxin aerosol. No differences in the maximal responses or slope factors of the dose-response curves for carbachol, histamine, or isoprenaline were detected between the control and endotoxin-exposed groups. The EC50 value of the histamine dose-response curve 4 h after endotoxin nebulization was slightly but significantly (p < 0.05) increased, indicating decreased sensitivity. Responsiveness in vivo was measured in anesthetized spontaneously breathing guinea pigs 24 h after the endotoxin aerosol. The histamine-induced increase in pulmonary resistance was reduced by about 35% in the endotoxin-nebulized group (p < 0.01). It can be concluded that an influx of inflammatory cells accompanied by injury of the airways induces hyporeactivity of the guinea pig respiratory tract.