Asthma education decreases the number of emergency visits in specific subgroups of patients with asthma. However, it remains unknown whether this improvement is related only to the use of an action plan alone or to other components of the educational intervention. A total of 126 patients consulting urgently for an acute asthma exacerbation were recruited; 98 completed the study. The first 45 patients were assigned to Group C (control; usual treatment). Thereafter, patients were randomized to either Group LE (limited education; teaching of the inhaler technique plus self- action plan given by the on call physician) or Group SE (same as group LE plus a structured educational program emphasizing self-capacity to manage asthma exacerbations). At baseline, there was no difference between groups in asthma morbidity, medication needs, or pulmonary function. After 12 mo, only Group SE showed a significant improvement in knowledge, willingness to adjust medications, quality of life scores, and peak expiratory flows. In the last 6 mo, the number of unscheduled medical visits for asthma was significantly lower in Group SE in comparison with groups C and LE (p = 0.03). The number (%) of patients with unscheduled medical visits also decreased significantly in Group SE compared with Groups C and LE (p = 0.02). We conclude that a structured educational intervention emphasizing self-management improves patient outcomes significantly more than a limited intervention or conventional treatment.