The effect of intravenous injection of C5a on pulmonary resistance and dynamic lung compliance was determined in anesthetized, artificially respirated guinea pigs. A mixture of C5a plus C5adesarg was purified from yeast-activated guinea pig serum and is referred to as C5a. Intravenous injection of C5a caused a dose-related bronchoconstriction as evidenced by a decrease in compliance and increase in resistance. Conversion of the C5a in the mixture to C5adCSarg by carboxypeptidase B digestion did not significantly alter the magnitude of the bronchoconstriction. Pharmacological antagonists were employed to determine if histamine, acetylcholine or products of the arachidonate metabolism were mediators of C5a-induced bronchoconstriction. The histamine HI antagonist pyrilamine inhibited the C5a-induced bronchoconstriction, suggesting the involvement of histamine. The cholinergic receptor antagonist atropine in combination with pyrilamine caused an inhibition of the C5a-induced increase in resistance but not compliance, suggesting acetylcholine does not play a major role in C5a-induced bronchoconstriction beyond its known role in participating-in histamine-induced bronchoconstriction. Involvement of arachidonate metabolites was suggested by the ability of the cyclooxygenase inhibitor, indomethacin, to prevent the C5a-induced bronchoconstriction. Because indomethacin also caused a delay in the leukotriene C4 (LTGO-induced bronchoconstriction, the participation of peptidoleukotrienes in the C5a-induced bronchoconstriction could not be ruled out. The leukotriene antagonists FPL 55712 and L-649, 923 were evaluated for their specificity in inhibiting UKVinduced bronchoconstriction. FPL 55712 was nonselective since it inhibited prostaglandin D2 and histamine-induced bronchoconstriction as well as LTC4-induced bronchoconstriction. L-649, 923 inhibited only the LTGt-induced bronchoconstriction and was without effect on the C5a-induced bronchoconstriction, suggesting that peptidoleukotrienes are not important mediators of C5a-induced bronchoconstriction. Using radioimmunoassay, the change in peptidoleukotriene levels detected in plasma during C5a-induced bronchoconstriction was not significantly different from 0. Thus, these studies have quantitated the C5a-induced decrease in dynamic lung compliance and increase in pulmonary resistance and suggest that histamine and cyclooxygenase products, but not peptidoleukotrienes, play a major role in C5a-induced bronchoconstriction.