MK-571 is a novel leukotriene D4/E4 (LTD4/E4) receptor antagonist. The ability of MK-571 to inhibit LTD4-induced bronchoconstriction was examined both in six healthy volunteers and in six asthmatic subjects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover study design. LTD4 challenges were performed during a constant infusion with placebo or the active compound. The provocative concentration of LTD4 causing a 35% decrease in SGaw (PC35 SGaw) was 4.8 +/- 0.6 x 10(-5) M (mean +/- SEM) in healthy volunteers and 1.8 +/- 0.7 x 10(-6) M in asthmatic subjects during placebo treatment. Intravenous MK-571 (1,500, 86, or 28 mg) inhibited the LTD4-induced bronchoconstriction completely in healthy volunteers, up to an inhaled concentration of 10(-4) M LTD4. In asthmatic subjects, 28 mg MK-571 caused a significant, at least 44-fold, rightward shift of the dose-response curve to LTD4, whereas 277 mg shifted the dose-response curve at least 84-fold to the right. MK-571 is therefore a potent antagonist of LTD4-induced bronchoconstriction in both normal volunteers and asthmatic patients. MK-571 also caused a small but significant increase in baseline airway caliber in asthmatic patients, suggesting the presence of LTD4 in asthmatic airways and thus providing further support to a role for sulfidopeptide leukotrienes in the pathogenesis of asthma.