We investigated whether an exercise challenge protocol is suitable for measuring bronchial responsiveness in epidemiological studies of asthma in children, and determined its comparability with histamine challenge. The exercise challenge was 6 minutes of outdoor, free-range running at 85-90% of maximum heart rate, measured by heart rate monitor. Nose clips were worn. Distance run was measured to estimate oxygen consumption. Water content of the inspired air was < 10 mg H2O.l-1. Histamine challenge was by the rapid method. We used questionnaires to measure respiratory symptoms and skin prick tests to measure atopy. A total of 96 children aged 8-11 years were studied. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) to exercise challenge was defined as a fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 13% of greater. Eleven children had a positive response to exercise challenge and 11 to histamine challenge but 12 responded to one challenge and not to the other. The correlation coefficient between the two tests was 0.65 (p = 0.0001). Exercise challenge thus proved to be a practical epidemiological tool for objective measurements of bronchial responsiveness in children. In this sample, some children responded to one challenge and not to the other which suggests that the two challenges identify different abnormalities of the airways.