Written questionnaires have been widely used in epidemiological studies of asthma. However, when translated to another language, they must be validated. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) written questionnaire had been previously validated by a comprehensive study, but this had not been done in Brazil. Our objective was to validate the asthma component of the ISAAC self-applicable written questionnaire following its translation to Portuguese. A group of 10 pediatricians and 10 pediatric allergists graded the questions from 0 to 2, and established a maximum score for each question. The questionnaire was answered by parents or guardians of asthmatic children, aged 6 to 7 years old (n = 26) and of nonasthmatic control children of the same age (n = 26); and by asthmatic (n = 33) and nonasthmatic (n = 33) adolescents, aged 13 to 14 years. Half of these individuals responded to the same questionnaire after 2 to 4 weeks. This second response allowed the evaluation of the reproducibility of the ISAAC questionnaire. The maximum global score possible was 14, and cut-off levels of 5 and 6 were found for the groups of 6 to 7 and 13 to 14 year olds, respectively. There was significant agreement between the adolescents' responses to the questionnaire and those from their parents or guardians (74.3%); however, significant discordance was observed for individual questions including "wheezing with exercise." In both age periods the questionnaire was significantly reproducible (Kappa test) (6 to 7 year olds Kw = 1; 13 to 14 year olds Kw = 0.89). In conclusion, the asthma component of the ISAAC written questionnaire was proven to be reproducible, adequate and able to differentiate between asthmatics and controls. Adolescents answered the questionnaire appropriately, however the results suggest that adolescents' parents or guardians underestimate asthma symptoms which interfere little with the adolescent's daily activities.