Inhaled nanomaterials present a challenge to traditional methods and understanding of respiratory toxicology. In this study, a non-targeted metabolomics approach was used to investigate relationships between nanoparticle hydrophobicity, inflammatory outcomes and the metabolic fingerprint in bronchoalveolar fluid. Measures of acute lung toxicity were assessed following single-dose intratracheal administration of nanoparticles with varying surface hydrophobicity (i.e. pegylated lipid nanocapsules, polyvinyl acetate nanoparticles and polystyrene beads; listed in order of increasing hydrophobicity). Broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) fluid was collected from mice exposed to nanoparticles at a surface area dose of 220 cm(2) and metabolite fingerprints were acquired via ultra pressure liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based metabolomics. Particles with high surface hydrophobicity were pro-inflammatory. Multivariate analysis of the resultant small molecule fingerprints revealed clear discrimination between the vehicle control and polystyrene beads (p < 0.05), as well as between nanoparticles of different surface hydrophobicity (p < 0.0001). Further investigation of the metabolic fingerprints revealed that adenosine monophosphate (AMP) concentration in BAL correlated with neutrophilia (p < 0.01), CXCL1 levels (p < 0.05) and nanoparticle surface hydrophobicity (p < 0.001). Our results suggest that extracellular AMP is an intermediary metabolite involved in adenine nucleotide-regulated neutrophilic inflammation as well as tissue damage, and could potentially be used to monitor nanoparticle-induced responses in the lung following pulmonary administration.