Several recent reports have provided evidence that the burden of asthma may have levelled off, after increasing for decades. Implementation of the national and global asthma prevention and management guidelines that have led to earlier detection and improved treatment of asthmatics, is considered to be involved in this apparent change for the better. In addition, environmental influences associated with the modern life may have reached the maximum in inducing symptoms and disease in genetically susceptible individuals in some areas. Available data obtained from Canada and non-English-speaking countries in Europe show that the peak in asthma prevalence has been reached at the level of 8-12%. This review outlines the most recent literature on time trends in asthma prevalence and considers the possible causes of the current trends. Problems and pitfalls in appraising studies on time trends are also discussed.