Epidemiological data on snoring from preschool children are scarce, although habitual snoring (snoring on almost all nights) has been associated with poor long-term outcomes. In a population survey of 6,811 children aged 1-4 yrs (from Leicestershire, UK) the present authors determined prevalence, severity and risk factors for snoring, especially habitual snoring. In 59.7% of the children, parents reported snoring in the previous 12 months, including 7.9% with habitual snoring and 0.9% with habitual snoring and sleep disturbance. Prevalence of habitual snoring increased with age from 6.6% in 1-yr-olds to 13.0% in 4-yr-olds. Habitual snoring was associated with: one and both parents smoking (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.46 and 2.09, respectively); road traffic (OR 1.23); single parent (OR 1.60); and in White but not South Asian children, socioeconomic deprivation (OR 1.25 and 2.03 for middle and upper thirds of Townsend score, respectively). Respiratory tract symptoms related to atopic disorders and to respiratory infections were strongly associated with snoring; however, body mass index was not. In conclusion, habitual snoring is common in preschool children with one-third of cases attributable to avoidable risk factors. The strong association with atopic disorders, viral infections and environmental exposures suggests a complex aetiology, based on a general vulnerability of the respiratory tract.