||BACKGROUND: Nitric oxide in exhaled air is regarded as an inflammation marker, and may be used to monitor the anti-inflammatory control from inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs). However, this response to ICSs exhibits a heterogeneous pattern. OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to describe the independent variables associated with the heterogeneity in the response of exhaled nitric oxide to ICSs. METHODS: Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), lung function, bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR), specific IgE to common inhalant allergens, blood eosinophils, other atopic manifestations and variants in nitric oxide synthethase 1 (NOS1) gene were studied in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover comparison of budesonide (BUD) Turbohaler 1600 mcg daily vs. placebo in asthmatic schoolchildren. RESULTS: Forty children were included in the study from a screening of 184 asthmatic children with moderately persistent asthma, well controlled on regular BUD 400 mcg daily: 20 children with normal FeNO and 20 with raised FeNO. FeNO, BHR and forced expiratory volume in 1 s improved significantly after BUD 1600 mcg (BUD1600). However, FeNO after ICS treatment exhibited a Gaussian distribution and FeNO was significantly raised in 15 children. Allergy and BHR, but none of the other independent variables under study were significantly related to FeNO after BUD1600. CONCLUSION: Exhaled nitric oxide exhibited a heterogeneous response to ICS in asthmatic schoolchildren. Allergy and BHR were driving FeNO level independently of high-dose steroid treatment. This should be considered when using FeNO for steroid dose titration and monitoring of ICS anti-inflammatory control in asthmatic children.