Although contraction of human isolated bronchi is mediated mainly by tachykinin NK2 receptors, NK1 receptors, via prostanoid release, contract small-size (approximately 1 mm in diameter) bronchi. Here, we have investigated the presence and biological responses of NK1 receptors in medium-size (2-5 mm in diameter) human isolated bronchi. Specific staining was seen in bronchial sections with an antibody directed against the human NK1 receptor. The selective NK1 receptor agonist, [Sar(9), Met(O2)(11)]SP, contracted about 60% of human isolated bronchial rings. This effect was reduced by two different NK1 receptor antagonists, CP-99,994 and SR 140333. Contraction induced by [Sar(9), Met(O2)(11)]SP was independent of acetylcholine and histamine release and epithelium removal, and was not affected by nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition. [Sar(9), Met(O2)(11)]SP increased inositol phosphate (IP) levels, and SR 140333 blocked this increase, in segments of medium- and small-size (approximately 1 mm in diameter) human bronchi. COX inhibition blocked the IP increase induced by [Sar(9), Met(O2)(11)]SP in small-size, but not in medium-size, bronchi. NK1 receptors mediated bronchoconstriction in a large proportion of medium-size human bronchi. Unlike small-size bronchi this effect is independent of prostanoid release, and the results are suggestive of a direct activation of smooth muscle receptors and IP release.