The effect of thiazinamium Cl (TCl) on histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells (RPMC) was investigated. Although TCl inhibited compound 48/80-induced histamine release moderately (IC50 value 40 microM), the drug was a weaker inhibitor of ovalbumin-induced histamine release (100 microM, -21%). In contrast, promethazine HCl (PHCl) was more effective against antigen-induced histamine release (IC50 value 13 microM) than against compound 48/80-induced histamine release (100 microM, -53%). Disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) was effective against both antigen and compound 48/80-induced release of histamine with IC50 values of 7 and 1 microM, respectively. Neither TCl nor DSCG at 1 mM increased spontaneous release of histamine from RPMC, whereas PHCl induced spontaneous release by over 50% at 1 mM. TCl did not inhibit phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity in guinea pig lung at 1 mM, whereas theophylline and DSCG inhibited PDE with IC50 values of 1.1 and 0.32 mM, respectively. These data suggest that high local concentrations of TCl may reduce histamine release during an asthmatic attack and improve its effectiveness as a bronchoprotectant.