The influence of relative humidity (RH) on the cohesion properties of three drugs: salbutamol sulphate (SS), triamcinolone acetonide (TAA), and disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) was investigated using the atomic force microscope (AFM) colloidal probe technique. Micronized drug particles were mounted in heat-sensitive epoxy resin for immobilization. Multiple AFM force-distance curves were conducted between each drug probe and the immobilized drug particulates at 15, 45, and 75% RH using Force-Volume imaging. Clear variations in the cohesion profile with respect to RH were observed for all three micronized drugs. The calculated force and energy of cohesion to separate either micronized SS or DSCG increased as humidity was raised from 15 to 75% RH, suggesting capillary forces become a dominating factor at elevated RH. In comparison, the separation force and energy for micronized TAA particles decreased with increased RH. This behavior may be attributed to long-range attractive electrostatic interactions, which were observed in the approach cycle of the AFM force-distance curves. These observations correlated well with previous aerosolization studies of the three micronized drugs. (C) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.