The objective of this investigation was to assess the prevalence of dermatophytoses in children in a geographically restricted area in the Ethiopian countryside, and to determine the aetiological agents of these infections. Demographical and clinical-dermatological data were collected from all children 4-15 years of age on Tulugudu Island, Southern Ethiopia. Mycological specimens were taken and species identification determined through morphological observations and biochemical tests, complemented with sequencing of rDNA ITS2 region when necessary. Of 171 children, 96% shared combs, 85% shared beds and 97% had animal contact. Family size was > 5 persons in 50% of the test subjects and prevalence of tinea capitis was elevated in this group (P < 0.005). Dermatophytoses were clinically diagnosed in 136 cases (79.5%). Tinea capitis (T. capitis) was the most common manifestation with 104 cases (76.5%). T. capitis was combined with dermatophytic infections at other sites in 19 cases. Tinea faciae and Tinea corporis were found in four and two cases, respectively, and pediculosis capitis was diagnosed in 2.9% of the test subjects. Of 135 samples from hair (n = 112), skin (n = 19) and finger-nail (n = 4), 74.1% were microscopy-positive for dermatophytes, 73% were positive in culture, giving an overall prevalence of dermatophytoses in 57.3% of all children examined. Trichophyton violaceum was identified in 80.6% of cultures, Trichophyton verrucosum in 16.3% and Trichophyton tonsurans in 2.0%. One isolate was identified as a white variant of T. violaceum. Tinea capitis was highly prevalent in children on Tulugudu Island, Southern Ethiopia. The anthropophilic species T. violaceum dominated as an aetiological agent. Zoophilic dermatophytes were relatively rarely isolated from clinical specimens, despite the children's frequent contact with animals.