The ability of aerosolized sodium metabisulfite to induce hypertrophic and hyperplastic changes in rat airway secretory epithelial cells was investigated. A 10% solution of sodium metabisulfite was aerosolized into a Plexiglas exposure chamber, using an ultrasonic humidifier. The level of SO2 gas generated by this apparatus was measured to be 500 ppm. Measured levels of neutral and acidic mucous glycoproteins in extracts from tracheal and lung tissue were used as indices of hypertrophic (increases in mucus content per cell) and hyperplastic (increased numbers of cells containing mucus per gram of tissue) changes occurring in mucus-secreting cells of the airways. Exposing rats to sodium metabisulfite for 3 weeks resulted in profound increases in total neutral mucous glycoproteins found in tracheal and lung tissue (6.2-fold and 10.1-fold, respectively), compared with the H2O-treated counterparts. Total acidic mucous glycoproteins were significantly elevated in lung tissue only (13.5-fold). In addition, neutral and acidic mucous glycoproteins were elevated 20-fold and 9-fold, respectively, in bronchoalveolar lavage samples prepared from sodium metabisulfite exposed animals. These results indicate that aerosolized sodium metabisulfite may be a useful agent for developing small animal models of mucus hypersecretion.Key words: mucus, hypertrophy, hyperplasia, secretion, airway, epithelia.