It has previously been demonstrated that topical nasal treatment with glucocorticosteroids has significant effects on the bronchial airways. Less is known about effects on nasal disease by topical bronchial treatment with these drugs. The present study examined effects on nasal allergic disease of inhaled budesonide (avoiding nasal deposition of the drug). Patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis, but without asthma, were thus given inhalations of budesonide (600 microg b.i.d.) or placebo. The aim of the design was to allow the study of eosinophilic airway disease in a part of the airway other than the directly treated locus. Moderate to high birch pollen levels were recorded during the study season, and nasal symptoms were significantly increased in both treatment groups, although they were milder in patients receiving budesonide than in the placebo group (p<0.05). Nasal brush eosinophils and nasal lavage fluid levels of eosinophil cationic protein as well as blood eosinophils were increased during the season (p<0.05), but these increases were prevented by the inhaled budesonide. Nasal lavage fluid levels of alpha2-macroglobulin were particularly elevated in the placebo group but did not differ between patients receiving placebo and budesonide. Budesonide prevented the seasonal development of increased bronchoconstrictor responses to methacholine challenge (p<0.05). In conclusion, budesonide reduced the seasonal eosinophilia both in the circulation and in the nose along with an attenuation of seasonal nasal symptoms. Hence, at a daily dose of 600 microg b.i.d., known to cause no, or minimal, adverse effects, inhaled budesonide produces clinically significant anti-inflammatory effects in the entire airways, including the nasal mucosa, which is not exposed topically to the drug. We suggest that nasal and systemic anti-eosinophil actions are produced at commonly employed dose levels of orally inhaled budesonide.