Although many antihistamines are now in clinical use, few studies directly compare their pharmacodynamic and sedative activities in humans in vivo. We designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study to compare the inhibitory effects of bepotastine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, and olopatadine on histamine-induced flare-and-wheal response. Systemic sedative effects and impaired psychomotor activities by these drugs were also evaluated. Bepotastine (10 mg twice a day), cetirizine (10 mg once a day), fexofenadine (60 mg twice a day), and olopatadine (5 mg twice a day) or placebo was given in a double-blind manner to seven healthy volunteers before histamine challenge by iontophoresis. At 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 24 h following the oral administration of these drugs, histamine iontophoresis-induced wheal-and-flare response was measured. Sedative effects by the drugs were also evaluated by a visual analogue scale for subjective sedation, and by word processor test for psychomotor activity. Each volunteer was tested with all of the drugs (including placebo), administered in a random order with a washout period of at least 1 week. Histamine iontophoresis induced marked wheal-and-flare response in all participants. Bepotastine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, and olopatadine yielded significant reduction of histamine-induced wheal-and-flare response compared to placebo (P < 0.01). Among the drugs, olopatadine and cetirizine suppressed most markedly and persistently histamine-induced wheal-and-flare response, while bepotastine and fexofenadine produced a significant, but less persistent suppression. Olopatadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine showed a significant systemic sedative effect in this order with bepotastine showing the least sedative effect. Moreover, olopatadine affected psychomotor performance most markedly, which was followed by fexofenadine and cetirizine. These results indicate that bepotastine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, and olopatadine inhibit histamine-induced wheal-and-flare response of humans in vivo and induce a variable systemic sedative effect and impaired psychomotor activity. Although olopatadine and cetirizine showed the strongest and most persistent suppression of histamine-induced wheal-and-flare response, olopatadine showed a considerable sedative effect with impaired psychomotor performance.