This report assesses Quality of Life (QoL) and its relationship to current symptoms and prospective medical contact among 396 adult patients with asthma. Patients were 16 to 52 yr of age and in the care of family physicians in the northeast of Scotland. All patients had been prescribed asthma medication within the previous 3 mo. Mean %pred FEV(1) was 87.4, mean %pred PEF was 85.1; 41% reported respiratory symptoms every week in the month before interview. Patients completed the SF-36, SF-12, and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scales. Although mean scores on the SF-36 and SF-12 were close to population norms for patients without chronic illness, the presence of any respiratory symptoms in the month before interview was related to significantly lower QoL scores on the SF-36 scales of Physical Functioning, Energy, Mental Health, Pain, and Health Perception: the SF-12 Physical Functioning scale, and the SGRQ Symptoms, Impact and Activities scales. Physician contact for asthma in the 12 mo after interview was significantly related to SF-36, SF-12, and SGRQ scores at time of interview; however, when adjusted for symptoms at time of interview, only the SGRQ scales remained significant predictors of prospective physician contact. We conclude that respiratory symptoms have significant impact on QoL among patients with mild asthma, measured by generic and respiratory QoL scales, but that a specific respiratory scale is better able to discriminate patients who will seek physician care for asthma.