Abstract Interleukin (IL)-4 causes the dose limiting sensation of nasal congestion when administered systemically at doses of 3 μg/kg or higher thrice daily to humans. This side effect was observed in a group of patients treated as part of an immunotherapy protocol for cancer management. To determine the source of this congestion, nasal secretions were collected prospectively in a group of patients at baseline and after provocation with normal saline, methacholine (which stimulates glandular secretion), and histamine (which causes increased vascular permeability). Nasal lavages obtained at baseline and after provocation were analyzed for the presence of these glandular and vascular proteins and inflammatory mediators. Washings and provocations were performed before IL-4 administration, after 24 hours of IL-4 treatment, and after 3 days of treatment, at a time when nasal congestion was maximal. Compared with histamine challenge before IL-4 treatment, the secretion of the plasma proteins albumin and IgG were significantly decreased after 3 days of IL-4 treatment. IL-4 treatment had no apparent effect on methacholine-induced responses. Thus systemically administered IL-4 causes the subjective sensation of nasal congestion, increased histamine in nasal lavages, and the development of vascular unresponsiveness to histamine, without affecting parasympathetic responses to histamine. The relationships among increases in nasal lavage histamine, vascular unresponsiveness to histamine, and the sensation of nasal congestion are unclear.