The study aim was to estimate the contribution of indoor and outdoor air pollution to the 1-year prevalence of adolescent asthma after personal susceptibility and other potential risk factors were taken into account. A large-scaled cross-sectional study was conducted among 165,173 high school students aged 11 to 16 years in the different communities of Kaohsiung and Pintong in Taiwan, from October 1995 to June 1996. Each student and his/her parents participating in the study completed a video and a written International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire about symptoms of wheezing and allergies, passive smoking, and demographic variables. After adjustment for potential confounders, adolescents exposed to cigarette smoking (odds ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.17-1.42) and environmental tobacco smoke (odds ratio = 1.08, 95% CI, 1.05-1.12) were found to suffer from asthma at an increased frequency. We observed a statistically significant association between outdoor air pollution and asthma, after controlling for potential confound variables. Total suspended particulate, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and airborne dust particles all displayed an independent association with asthma, respectively. There were no selection biases in this community-based study, which provides evidence that passive smoking and long-term, high average outdoor air pollution are independent risk factors of asthma.