Airway obstruction, as measured by increases in postmortem pulmonary gas trapping, and lung inflammatory changes were examined in guinea pigs exposed for up to 4 h to aerosols of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) or its non-chemotactic isomer, 6-trans-12-epi-LTB4. Airway obstruction and cytological responses in isomer-exposed animals were similar to those of unexposed control animals. LTB4-exposed animals had minimal inflammatory changes at 0.5 h but became dyspneic by 2 h and had increased airway obstruction, bronchoalveolar lavage neutrophils and eosinophils, and pulmonary tissue granulocyte scores. The LTB4-induced effects at 4 h were similar to those 2 h, except for further increase in BAL neutrophils and eosinophils. LTB4-induced airway obstructive and inflammatory changes were prevented by pretreatment with the LTB4 receptor antagonist SC-41930, but were unaffected by indomethacin. Thus, prolonged LTB4 inhalation can produce delayed onset airway obstruction that is stereospecific, cyclooxygenase-independent, and temporally associated with the influx of granulocytes into lung airways.