This study examined the geographic distribution of asthma hospitalizations in New York State (NYS) and its association with socioeconomic status. Statewide asthma hospitalization data (1987-1993) were merged with 1990 census data by residential zip code. The asthma hospitalization rate increased in NYS from 1987 (2.54 per 1000) through 1993 (2.87 per 1000) and the increase is largely attributable to increases for children 4 years old and younger. The risk factors for asthma admission varied in different areas. However, rates of hospitalization because of asthma were generally higher in the zip codes areas with higher proportions of poverty, unemployment, poorly educated residents, African-Americans, and Hispanics.