The allergic inflammatory response in allergic rhinitis has been studied extensively owing to the high frequency of the condition, the significant morbidity it causes and the accessibility of the nasal tissue. The allergic inflammatory response is characterized by IgE synthesis, IgE-dependent mast cell activation and infiltration of the nasal mucosa by T lymphocytes and eosinophils. The immediate-phase response is mediated by a range of inflammatory mediators (such as histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins), resulting in vasodilatation, oedema, mucus secretion, itching and sneezing. Individuals who experience a late-phase response have further nasal symptoms 4–24 h after the initial challenge with allergen. Results of nasal biopsy studies indicate that the late-phase allergic response involves T-lymphocyte activation, production of TH2-type cytokines and tissue eosinophilia. Corticosteroids potently inhibit T-lymphocyte responses, and clinical studies in subjects with allergic rhinitis have demonstrated that they are extremely effective in blocking both early- and late-phase allergic reactions. Topical aqueous triamcinolone acetonide nasal spray represents a novel formulation of a topical corticosteroid for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Data from controlled clinical studies indicate that it is effective in treating seasonal and perennial disease, is well tolerated, does not suppress adrenocortical function, is odourless, and can be administered as a once-daily dose.