Familial resemblance of asthma is well known but epidemiological research focused on familial resemblance of asthma severity is scanty. We studied whether asthma and asthma severity in first-degree relatives of cases with asthma were related to asthma severity of the index case. The analysis was based upon the examination of 944 subjects (348 cases, 239 relatives with asthma, and 357 subjects without asthma) and upon the information on 3467 first- degree relatives of probands. The risks of asthma in relatives of adult and pediatric cases were significantly higher than in relatives of subjects without asthma (OR 3.4 [95% CI 2.5-4.7] and 4.5 [2.6- 8.1], respectively). Proportions of asthma in relatives were not related to the asthma severity of cases for the three severity criteria studied (clinical score, FEV(1) % predicted, and inhaled corticosteroid use). Using both regression models and intraclass correlation coefficients, there was a significant familial resemblance for the clinical severity score (ICC = 0.23 and 0.23) and for FEV(1) (ICC = 0.19 and 0.25) among families of pediatric and adult probands, respectively. In conclusion, asthma occurrence in relatives may be independent of the severity of the cases with asthma, but results suggest familial resemblance in the severity of asthma when it occurs.