We investigated the frequency of allergic disorders, the pattern of allergen sensitization and serum total IgE concentration in a population-based sample of schoolchildren screened on the basis of respiratory symptoms (N = 244). The children were classified on clinical grounds into three groups, asthma (N = 43), other symptoms from lower airways (OSLA; N = 34) and control children (N = 167). The frequency of allergic disorders (allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis or dermatitis) differed significantly between children with asthma (81%), children with OSLA (62%) and in control children (48%) (p < 0.001). The presence of at least one positive skin prick test result was equally common in children with asthma or OSLA (77%), but lower in control children (40%) (p < 0.001). Serum total IgE concentrations did not differ between the three groups. Two conclusions can be drawn: (i) there is a strong association between clinical allergy, skin reactivity and asthma in school age children, and (ii) a similar association is present between allergy and asthma-like conditions.