Cholesterol sulfate (CS) in the gastrointestinal tract exhibits a mucosal protective activity in mouse ulcer model. To clarify the possible role of CS for protection from the epithelial injury due to neutrophil elastase in the tracheobronchi, the authors determined the concentrations of CS and neutrophil elastase in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from patients under anesthesia, and they examined the inhibitory activity of CS toward neutrophil elastase. The concentrations of CS and neutrophil elastase were determined by thin-layer chromatography and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assaying, respectively, and the effect of CS on the activity of elastase was determined with a chromogenic substrate. CS was found to be present in human lung, tracheal mucosa, and BALF, and a high synthesis of it was detected in the tracheal mucosa, in which cellular cholesterol sulfotransferase was induced depending on the density of tracheal cells. Among lipids in the tracheal mucosa, only CS was demonstrated to exhibit inhibitory activity toward neutrophil elastase, a powerful erosive agent in inflammation. The secretion of elastase from neutrophils into BALF was stimulated during the course of general anesthesia. In contrast, the amount of CS in BALF gradually decreased during anesthesia. On immune-precipitation of neutrophil elastase in BALF, CS was detected in the immune precipitate, which indicates a possible association of CS with neutrophil elastase in BALF. Conclusion: CS, which is a major acidic lipid in the tracheobronchial epithelium, might function as an epithelial inhibitor toward neutrophil elastase secreted in response to several stimuli such as anesthesia.