Readers will be aware that asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases of industrialised societies, with an increase in morbidity and mortality, despite the availability of a range of different drugs. In an effort to improve the treatment of asthmatic patients, international guidelines have recently recognised asthma as an inflammatory disease, and there has been a change in emphasis from bronchodilator drugs towards earlier use of anti-inflammatory treatments. This volume brings together the latest developments in our understanding of the mechanisms of asthma, considers the safety ofbeta-adrenoceptor agonists, and explores latest developments in the use of phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors in asthma therapy. The second international conference on "New Drugs in Allergy and Asthma" was held in Davos on 8-10 July 1992. There were six sessions with specialist chairmen: PDE isoenzymes (c. D. Nicholson), atopy and the environment (8. Villiger), adhesion molecules (R. H. Gundel), cytokines (M. Baggiolini), airway hyperreactivity (S. Makino) and neurotransmitters (J. G. Widdicombe). The success of the meeting was ensured by a high standard of presentation, with extensive reference to recent experimental data. The chairmen were instrumental in fostering stimulating discussion periods, that considerably enlivened the meeting. Particular thanks are due to the Swiss Institute for Asthma and Allergy Research (SIAF) and also to the e1inicians of Davos for their assistance and hospitality. In addition, a number of pharmaceutical companies were kind enough to support this meeting that was devoted to academic aspects of drug discovery. John Morley FRCPath.