The study examined the association between low birth weight (LBW) (< or = 2,500 g) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in two socioeconomically disparate populations. LBW and normal birth weight (NBW) children from the 1983 to 1985 newborn lists of an urban and a suburban hospital in Southeast Michigan were randomly selected. A total of 823 children, 473 LBW and 350 NBW, participated. Data were gathered in 1990 to 1992, when the children were 6 to 7 years of age. The National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule for children-Parent version (DISC-P) was used to elicit information on DSM-III-R diagnoses of simple phobia, overanxious, separation anxiety, oppositional defiant, and ADHD. Teachers' ratings of behavior problems were obtained. LBW was associated with ADHD but not with childhood anxiety disorders or oppositional defiant disorder. The association was stronger in the urban than in the suburban population. Data from teachers' ratings revealed an association between LBW and attention problems. The prognostic significance of the observed psychopathology at 6 years of age requires follow-up assessment as the children mature.