This study uses Maryland hospital discharge data for the period 1979-82 to determine whether Black children are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma and whether this difference persists after adjustment for poverty. The average annual asthma discharge rate was 1.95/1000 children aged 1-19; 3.75/1000 for Black children, and 1.25/1000 for White. Medicaid-enrolled children of both races had increased discharge rates for asthma compared to those whose care was paid for by other sources: 5.68/1000 vs 2.99/1000 for Blacks, and 3.10/1000 vs 1.11/1000 for Whites. When ecologic analyses were performed, populations of Black and White children had nearly equal asthma discharge rates after adjustment for poverty. The statewide adjusted rate was 2.70/1000 (95% CL = 1.93, 3.78) for Black children and 2.10/1000 (1.66, 2.66) for White children. Among Maryland counties and health planning districts, variation in asthma discharge rates was not associated with the supply of hospital beds or the population to primary-care physician ratio. We conclude that Black children are at increased risk of hospitalization for asthma, but that some or all of this increase is related to poverty rather than to race.