BACKGROUND: Increased mucus production is a critical factor impairing lung function in patients suffering from bronchial asthma, the most common chronic inflammatory lung disease worldwide. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed at investigating whether goblet cell (GC) metaplasia and mucus production are differentially regulated in proximal and distal airways. METHODS: Female Balb/c mice were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) and challenged with an OVA-aerosol on two consecutive days for one week (acute) or twelve weeks (chronic). Real-time RT-PCR analysis was applied on microdissected airways. RESULTS: In acutely and chronically OVA-challenged mice GC metaplasia and mucus production was observed in proximal but not in distal airways. In contrast, inflammation reflected by the infiltration of eosinophils and expression of the TH2-type cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 was increased in both, proximal and distal airways. Abundance of IL-13Rα1 was lower in distal airways of healthy control mice. Under acute and chronic OVA-exposure, activation of IL-13Rα1-dependent signaling cascade, reflected by Spdef and Foxo3A transcription factors, was attenuated in distal compared to proximal airways. CONCLUSION & CLINICAL RELEVANCE: These data indicate that distal airways might be less sensitive to IL-13 induced GC metaplasia and mucus production through lower expression of IL-13Rα1 and attenuated activation of downstream signaling. This might represent a protective strategy in order to prevent mucus plugging of distal airways and thus, impaired ventilation of attached alveoli.