The prevalence of dermatophytosis and the spectrum of dermatophyte species were determined in children attending two schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Demographic and clinico-dermatological data were collected. Specimens were taken for microscopy and culture from all suspected lesions. Dermatophyte species were identified by morphology and biochemical tests, supplemented by sequencing of the rDNA ITS 2 region in selected isolates. From the Biruh Tesfa Elementary School (BTES) 824 students, and from Mount Olive Academy (MOA) all 124 students, were included. In BTES 513 (62.3%) students were clinically diagnosed with dermatophytosis, 463 (90.3 %) of them with tinea capitis. In 200 consecutive samples from BTES, and in 66 from MOA, 75 and 62%, respectively, contained fungal elements at microscopy. From BTES, 163/496 (33%) samples were culture-positive, of which 149 (91.4%) grew with dark purple colonies identified as Trichophyton violaceum, while 244 (49.4%) samples were contaminated. A few strains grew slowly developing white to cream colonies, two were identified as T. verrucosum, and 12 as white T. violaceum. From MOA 44 (66.7%) of samples were culture-positive, 38 (87%) were identified as T. violaceum, and one (2.3%) as T. verrucosum, while 33% showed no growth. Four white isolates of T.violaceum were confirmed by DNA-sequencing. Dermatophytosis was thus diagnosed in 55-62% of children screened at two schools of different socioeconomic standards in the Ethiopian capital. Trichophyton violaceum constituted 87-90% of all isolates. White variants of T. violaceum were diagnosed in 16 cases.