Exposure to swine confinement buildings has a negative impact on respiratory health. A short exposure to this environment results in an acute airway inflammatory response. The present study was performed to confirm and further define the acute effects of working in a swine building, and to determine whether these effects are reproducible. Seven previously nonexposed normal subjects underwent evaluations that included hourly measurement of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), methacholine challenge (the provocative concentration producing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20)), bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), nasal lavage (NL), and blood analyses, before (control) and after each of two 5 h exposures to a swine building environment. The exposures were conducted 8 days apart. The levels of total dust, endotoxins, and ammonia (NH3) in the confinement building were measured on each day of exposure. Both exposures resulted in a significant reduction in FEV1 (mean+/-SEM change in FEV1: control = 7+/-2%; exposure 1 = 15+/-3%; exposure 2 = 23+/-3%), decrease in PC20 (median value (25th-75th percentile): 223 (23-256), 20 (15-198) and 20 (11-71), respectively; p=0.05) and increase in BAL cells (129+/-20, 451+/-43 and 511+/-103x10(3) cells x mL(-1), respectively) and NL cells (6+/-4, 126+/-58 and 103+/-26x10(3) cells x mL(-1), respectively), mostly neutrophils. Levels of interleukin-8 (IL-8), but not interleukin-1 (IL-1) or tumour necrosis factors (TNF-alpha), increased both in BAL and nasal fluids with exposure. In normal naive subjects, repeated exposure to the environment of a swine building induced a marked and reproducible reduction in forced expiratory volume in one second, increase in airway responsiveness, and increased neutrophilic inflammatory response. These results could not be accounted for by any of the environmental factors measured.