The possibility of a causal relationship is suggested by recent concomitant increases in the prevalence of obesity and asthma. In a general population sample, prevalence and incidence of asthma symptoms, skin tests, and body mass index (BMI) were ascertained at mean ages of 6.3 (n = 688) and 10.9 (n = 600) yr. Lung function, bronchodilator responsiveness, and daily peak flow variability were measured at 11 yr of age. There was no association between BMI at age 6 and wheezing prevalence at any age. Females, but not males, who were overweight or obese at 11 yr of age were more likely to have current wheezing at ages 11 and 13 but not at ages 6 or 8. This effect was strongest among females beginning puberty before the age of 11. Females who became overweight or obese between 6 and 11 yr of age were 7 times more likely to develop new asthma symptoms at age 11 or 13 (p = 0.0002); at age 11 their peak flow variability and bronchodilator responsiveness were significantly more likely to be increased. In females, becoming overweight or obese between 6 and 11 yr of age increases the risk of developing new asthma symptoms and increased bronchial responsiveness during the early adolescent period.