We have investigated the phenotype of interleukin-5 (IL-5) mRNA+ cells in the nasal mucosa of subjects with allergic rhinitis. Serial cryostat sections were cut from paraformaldehyde-fixed snap-frozen nasal biopsies from six patients, before and 24 h after local allergen provocation with grass pollen. Immunocytochemistry (APAAP) was followed by in situ hybridization on the same sections. For immunocytochemistry, antibodies against CD3, tryptase, and major basic protein (MBP) were used to identify T cells, mast cells, and eosinophils, respectively. Hybridization studies were performed using a Digoxigenin-labeled IL-5 riboprobe. Nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) and X-phosphate-5-bromo-4-chloro-3- indoly phosphate (BCIP) served as chromogens to detect hybridized IL-5 mRNA signals. The majority of IL-5 mRNA+ cells were CD3+ (83.2%), whereas the remainder were either tryptase+ (11.3%) or MBP+ (5.4%). In contrast, only a few IL-5 mRNA+ cells were observed in nasal biopsies before challenge, all of which were co-localized to CD3+ cells. These results indicate that CD3+ cells are the principal cellular source of IL-5 transcripts in the nasal mucosa 24 h after allergen-induced late-phase nasal responses.