In this study we investigated bleomycin-induced pulmonary toxicity in patients with germ-cell tumour by means of technetium-99m diethylene triamine penta-acetic acid aerosol scintigraphy. Twenty untreated patients who had no clinical or radiological evidence of pulmonary disease received four courses of etoposide, cisplatin and bleomycin chemotherapy. Aerosol lung scintigraphy and pulmonary function tests were performed in all patients before bleomycin treatment and after administration of 180 and 360 mg bleomycin. On the basis of the scintigrams the percentage decline in activity per minute (Kep) was evaluated, which represented an accurate parameter of lung membrane permeability. Pretreatment Kep values (0. 891 +/- 0.286) were significantly lower than those obtained following 180 and 360 mg bleomycin treatment (I. 1 76 +/- 0.336 and 1.389 +/- 0.477, respectively; P < 0.0005). The Kep values obtained with 180 and 360 mg bleomycin treatments were also significantly different (P < 0.005). In contrast, no significant change was observed in the results of pulmonary function tests. Our results demonstrate that evaluation of the pulmonary clearance of Tc-99m-DTPA represents a useful means of monitoring the functional status of the lung epithelial membrane during bleomycin treatment. Further prospective studies are needed to assess the relationship between increase in permeability and development of lung toxicity in order to decide which patients should discontinue bleomycin therapy.