The aim of the study was to determine the trends and seasonal variations in hospital admissions for childhood asthma in a tertiary medical center since 1990. Data were collected according to the age and sex of patients and obtained from hospital registries between 1990 and 1998. Children between 2 and 14 years of age admitted with the diagnosis of asthma, or asthmatic bronchitis (ICD-9 code 493) were included. Age-specific and sex-specific hospital admission rates for asthma were calculated for each calendar year. The asthma admission rates were defined as the number of asthma admissions divided by the total number of all pediatric admissions in a year. Seasonal admission rates were calculated in a similar fashion. In addition, the number of readmissions was also calculated during the study period with comparisons of sex and age differences. The asthma admission rates showed a significant upward trend throughout the period studied, particularly among the 2-4 years of age group (relative risk = 2.08; p = 0.0001). Seasonal admission rates revealed a statistically significant increase during the October-December period, peaking in November or December of each calendar year (relative risk = 1.84; p = 0.0001). There was a male predominance in both age categories during the 9-year period. Comparisons of readmissions for asthma (at least three admissions) disclosed that girls were far more likely to be readmitted than boys among the 5-14 years of age group (p = 0.01). Our results indicate 1) an increased prevalence and severity of childhood asthma in Taiwan; 2) boys and younger children aged 2-4 years with asthma had increased risks of admission for asthma (relative risks were 1.22 and 1.96, respectively) and 3) girls among the older children with asthma tend to present with greater severity than boys owing to higher relative risks of readmission for asthma.