Increases in asthma worldwide have been associated epidemiologically with expanding urban air pollution. The mechanistic relationship between airway hyper-responsiveness, inflammation, and ambient airborne triggers remains ambiguous. Acrolein, a ubiquitous aldehyde pollutant, is a product of incomplete combustion reactions. Acrolein is abundant in cigarette smoke, effluent from industrial smokestacks, diesel exhaust, and even hot oil cooking vapors. Acrolein is a potent airway irritant and can induce airway hyper-responsiveness and inflammation in the lungs of animal models. In the present study, we utilized the mast cell analog, RBL-2H3, to interrogate the responses of cells relevant to airway inflammation and allergic responses as a model for the induction of asthma-like conditions upon exposure to acrolein. We hypothesized that acrolein would induce oxidative stress and degranulation in airway mast cells. Our results indicate that acrolein at 1 ppm initiated degranulation and promoted the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Introduction of antioxidants to the system significantly reduced both ROS generation and degranulation. At higher levels of exposure (above 100 ppm), RBL-2H3 cells displayed signs of severe toxicity. This experimental data indicates acrolein can induce an allergic inflammation in mast cell lines, and the initiation of degranulation was moderated by the application of antioxidants. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 908–915, 2014.