In a longitudinal cohort study of primary-school-age children with asthma in Detroit, Michigan, we examined relationships between lung function and ambient levels of particulate matter < or = 10 microm and < or = 2.5 microm in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5) and ozone at varying lag intervals using generalized estimating equations. Models considered effect modification by maintenance corticosteroid (CS) use and by the presence of an upper respiratory infection (URI) as recorded in a daily diary among 86 children who participated in six 2-week seasonal assessments from winter 2001 through spring 2002. Participants were predominantly African American from families with low income, and > 75% were categorized as having persistent asthma. In both single-pollutant and two-pollutant models, many regressions demonstrated associations between higher exposure to ambient pollutants and poorer lung function (increased diurnal variability and decreased lowest daily values for forced expiratory volume in 1 sec) among children using CSs but not among those not using CSs, and among children reporting URI symptoms but not among those who did not report URIs. Our findings suggest that levels of air pollutants in Detroit, which are above the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards, adversely affect lung function of susceptible asthmatic children.