Asthma prevalence and mortality due to asthma have been increasing during the last decade, and both the rates and the increases in rates have been higher for blacks than whites and higher for children than adults. Whether environmental factors such as air pollution contribute to these increases is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between emergency visits to a hospital for childhood asthma and exposure to ozone in an indigent, predominantly black population. Data were collected by abstracting clinical records for all children with asthma or reactive airway disease in one public hospital during the summer of 1990. From June 1, 1990, to August 31, 1990, 609 visits were made by children aged 1 to 16 years to an emergency clinic for treatment of asthma or reactive airway disease. Monitoring data indicated that maximum ozone levels equalled or exceeded 0.11 ppm on 6 days during the study period. The average number of visits for asthma or reactive airway disease was 37% higher on the days after those 6 days (from 6:00 PM to 6:00 PM the next day) than on other days (95% CI, RR = 1.02-1.73). The results of the study suggest that among black children from low-income families, asthma may be exacerbated following periods of high ozone pollution.