For investigation of a possible relationship between cutaneous and bronchial hyperreactivity, 74 subjects were grouped according to the presence (n = 33) or absence (n = 41) of urticarial dermographism after application of a standardized shearing pressure with a dermographometer (12.7 x 10(5) Pa). the two groups did not differ in age, sex, smoking habits, presence of urticaria and atopy, or serum IgE levels. Erythema of the dermographic test sites was always significantly greater (P < 0.001) in the group with urticarial dermographism at 2, 4, and 8 min, and cutaneous reactivity with titrated prick tests was significantly increased in this group with low concentrations of histamine, 0.01% and substance P (0.25 mM) (P < 0.05). After bronchial provocation with acetylcholine, 51 of the 74 subjects, 25 with and 26 without urticarial dermographism, exhibited bronchial hyperreactivity. However, significantly more subjects with urticarial dermographism had an increase in airway resistance and a decrease in specific airway conductance (P < 0.05). In the subgroup (n = 9) of subjects with symptomatic urticarial dermographism (urticaria factitia), these differences were even more significant (P < 0.001). These subjects also had larger skin test reactions and significantly higher IgE levels (P < 0.01). Thus, the present data show an association, which may be based on common mechanisms of allergic inflammation, between cutaneous and bronchial hyperreactivity.