Seventy-seven patients with status asthmaticus were prospectively studied to compare oral with intravenous methylprednisolone. Patients were given methylprednisolone, either 160 or 320 mg orally or 500 or 1000 mg intravenously, daily in equally divided doses. They were randomly assigned to either group on a daily sequential basis. Spirometry was performed within one hour of the initial dose of steroids. The mean presenting forced expiratory volume in 1 s was 26% of the predicted value. Spirometry was then repeated every six hours for the first 24 hours and then every eight to 12 hours until discharge or 72 hours, whichever occurred first. There were no significant differences in the incidence of respiratory failure, forced expiratory volume in 1 s, days of hospitalization, rate of improvement in pulmonary function, or side effects. No patient who went into respiratory failure did so more than three hours after receiving the initial dose of steroids. We conclude that oral methylprednisolone is safe and effective in the treatment of status asthmaticus.