The accurate measurement of changes in flow rates from partial flow-volume curves depends on their measurement at the same lung volume. This lung volume can be standardized from total lung capacity (TLC) if this does not change at the same time. We examined the effect of methacholine-stimulated maximal airway narrowing [change in mean forced expiratory volume in 1 s (delta FEV1) = 26.4%] on TLC, measured by whole-body plethysmography, in 10 normal subjects and of moderate airway narrowing (mean delta FEV1 = 34.9%) in 10 asthmatics. The TLC changed from 5.88 to 6.03 liters in normal subjects (P greater than 0.05) and from 6.92 to 6.95 liters (P greater than 0.5) in asthmatics. The results of this study suggest that TLC does not change significantly after methacholine-stimulated maximal airway narrowing in normal subjects and after moderate narrowing in asthmatics.