No study has investigated the effects of ethanol on bronchial responsiveness in patients with alcohol-induced asthma, although acetaldehyde, which is a metabolite of ethanol and is thought to be a main factor in alcohol-induced asthma, causes both bronchoconstriction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. The purpose of this study was to investigate the direct action of ethanol on the airway in patients with alcohol-induced asthma. First, we investigated the bronchial response to inhalation of ascending doses (5, 10, and 20%) of ethanol in nine patients with alcohol-induced asthma. Then, the bronchial responsiveness to methacholine was measured in 14 patients who were pretreated with saline or 20% ethanol in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover fashion. Ascending doses of inhaled ethanol caused no significant changes in FEV1. The methacholine concentrations producing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20-MCh) after 20% ethanol (0.769 mg/ml, GSEM 1.514) were significantly (P = 0.0357) higher than those after saline (0.493 mg/ml, GSEM 1.368). This indicates that ethanol has a reducing effect on nonspecific bronchial responsiveness in patients with alcohol-induced asthma; this paper is the first report on the effects of ethanol on bronchial responsiveness.