Low vitamin A levels have been found in a number of diseases in children. The aim of this study was to examine the vitamin A status in children with asthma and to correlate the changes with severity of disease. Serum levels of vitamin A, retinol-binding protein (RBP), and albumin were estimated in 35 asthmatic children (24 males) in the age group of 2-12 years (mean 5.89 years) and 29 controls (19 males). Both study and control groups were similar with respect to age, sex, and overall nutritional status. Twenty-four children in the study group (68.6%) had moderate to severe persistent asthma and eight children had mild persistent asthma. Only three patients suffered from mild intermittent asthma. Vitamin A levels in children with asthma (mean +/- SD 22.14 +/- 5.38 microg/dl) were found to be significantly lower than their controls (mean +/- SD 27.54 +/- 4.83 microg/dl) (p = 0.0001). Age, age of onset of asthma, and gender had no correlation with serum vitamin A levels. Low serum vitamin A levels (< 20 microg/dl) were observed four times more commonly in the study group (28.6%) than controls (6.9%). Severity of asthma had a negative correlation with serum vitamin A levels (r = - 0.61, p = 0.0001). Children with severe persistent asthma had markedly low serum vitamin A levels (mean +/- SD 13.42 +/- 5.19 microg/dl) as compared with mild intermittent asthma (mean +/- SD 24.61 +/- 2.32 microg/dl). Therapeutic trials are needed to prove whether low vitamin A levels contribute to asthma severity and the clinical utility of vitamin A supplementation in asthmatic children.