The aims of this study were to evaluate the prevalence, severity and risk factors for atopic dermatitis in Korean pre-school children as determined by dermatological examination vs questionnaire survey. A total of 6,453 pre-school children from 59 kindergartens and 14 day-care centres were evaluated. Parents responded to an International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC)-based questionnaire containing questions concerning 23 risk factors, as well as the prevalence, and severity of atopic dermatitis. Fourteen dermatologists then examined the participants according to the Korean diagnostic criteria for atopic dermatitis, and the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score. Atopic dermatitis prevalence determined by dermatological examination was lower than the questionnaire-based prevalence (9.2% vs 19.1%). Most patients (96.2%) had mild atopic dermatitis according to the EASI score (mean ± SD 3.91 ± 4.73; median 1.5; range 0.2-38.0). However, 17.4% had sleep disturbance, and 56.7% had not obtained complete remission of their rash over the previous 12 months. Among the 12 risk factors, "changing the patient's house to a newly built house during the first year of life" had significant odds ratio. In conclusion, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in Korea in the ISAAC-based survey conducted by paediatricians was similar to that in several European countries, and lower than the 2006 Korean figure (28.9%). In addition, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis was lower when assessed by dermatological examination than by questionnaire.