We report the validation of a new delivery system - aerosol production equipment (known by the acronym APE), which generates a particulate aerosol of technetium 99m diethylene triamine penta-acetic acid (DTPA) with a mass-median aerodynamic diameter of 0.35 μm and a geometric standard deviation of 1.8 Twenty subjects were studied; in group 1 were 12 healthy men with normal spirometry; in group 2 were 8 men with AIDS who had mildly abnormal lung function following an episode of pneumocystis pneumonia-spirometry FEV1 3.08 (0.73) L, FVC 4.83 (0.82) L [mean (SD)]. The APE nebulizer was used to form a particulate aerosol with 200 MBq of99mTc DTPA, which was collected in a 351 reservoir of air, which was subsequently inhaled. The mean (SD) inhalation time was 4.7 (0.44) min. The output of the nebulizer (% of activity inhaled) was 82%. Using planar imaging, the penetration index (right lung) in group 1 was 0.93 (0.18), mean (SD), and in group 2 it was 0.91 (0.12). There was virtually no tracheal deposition and extrapulmonary deposition (oropharynx and stomach) was less than 5% of the aerosol delivered. Single-photon emission tomography (SPET) studies carried out in five patients from group 1 confirmed homogeneous intrapulmonary deposition of99mTc-DTPA. In view of the excellent intrapulmonary deposition of99mTc-DTPA produced by the APE nebulizer, it may provide an alternative to conventional ventilation studies using radioactive gases. © 1991 Springer-Verlag.