Although acute respiratory infection (ARI) is the most frequent clinical syndrome in childhood, there is no validated measure of its severity. Therefore a parental questionnaire was developed: the Canadian Acute Respiratory Illness Flu Scale (CARIFS). A process of item generation, item reduction, and scale construction resulted in a scale composed of 18 items covering three domains; symptoms (e.g., cough); function (e.g., play), and parental impact (e.g., clinginess). The validity of the scale was evaluated in a study of 220 children with ARI. Construct validity was assessed by comparing the CARIFS score with physician, nurse, and parental assessment of the child's health. Data were available from 206 children (94%). The CARIFS correlated well with measures of the construct (Spearman's correlations between 0.36 and 0.52). Responsiveness was shown, with 90% of children having a CARIFS score less than a quarter of its initial value, by the tenth day.