This study examines the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and asthma prevalence and the use of asthma medication. One thousand and fifty European children aged eight and nine years were studied by parent completed questionnaire and histamine inhalation challenge. After controlling for sex of the child and for smokers in the house there were significantly higher lifetime (P = 0.029) and current (P = 0.046) prevalence rates of wheeze in children in low SES groups. There was no relationship between SES and asthma diagnosis, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR: PD20 less than 7.8 mumol), or any combination of BHR with symptoms or diagnosis. The use of bronchodilators and asthma prophylactic drugs was less frequent in the low SES groups of children with wheeze in the last 12 months both with concurrent BHR or irrespective of BHR than in those in high SES groups.