The W.T. Grant Foundation Asthma Risk Study was designed to prospectively examine children who were considered at a genetically increased risk for the development of asthma. The respective contributions of 11 potential risk factors, both environmental and biological, were assessed in order to determine their relative roles in affecting the early onset of asthma. This is a report of an inception cohort of children born to asthmatic mothers and followed for a 3-year period. All 150 families were recruited from the general community and living within 2 h of the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (Denver, CO). Mothers in the index risk sample had been previously diagnosed with asthma and were recruited during their pregnancy through physician referrals and media solicitation. The index sample of 150 families was 92% Caucasian and predominantly middle class. The mean age of mothers was 29.3 years, and of fathers, 31.1 years. The main outcome was the determination of the early onset of asthma and its association with quantified risk factors. By age 3 years, 14 of the 150 children had developed asthma. Frequent illness, IgE levels at age 6 months, parenting difficulties, and early eczema were significantly associated with the onset of asthma (P = 0.003, P = 0.006, P = 0.01, and P = 0.03, respectively). Only frequent illness, elevated serum IgE levels, and parenting difficulties entered a predictive model where they were independently related to the development of asthma.