In order to investigate associations between summertime haze air pollution and asthma at an individual level, 52, 58, and 56 children (ages 7 to 13) attending a summer "asthma camp" were followed during the last week of June in 1991, 1992, and 1993, respectively. Most of the subjects had moderate to severe asthma. Daily records were kept of the environmental conditions, as well as of subject medication use, lung function, and medical symptoms. Air pollution was found to be significantly and consistently correlated with acute asthma exacerbations, chest symptoms, and lung function decrements. The pollutant most consistently associated with adverse health consequences was ozone (O3), although associations with sulfates and hydrogen ion suggest a possible role by fine particles as well. Effects were found to be roughly monotonic as a function of O3 concentration. Regression of morning (8:00 A.M.) to afternoon (5:00 P.M.) peak flow change on O3 indicated pulmonary function reductions similar to those previously reported for more active children without asthma. Moreover, analyses also indicated an increased risk of an asthma exacerbation and of experiencing chest symptoms of approximately 40% on the highest pollution day, relative to the mean. Based on these relative risk estimates, a rise in the 1-h daily maximal O3 from 84 ppb to 160 ppb was associated in this group with an increase from 20 to 28 (+/- 2) in the expected number of unscheduled medications administered/day, and from 29 to 41 (+/- 3) in the expected total number of chest symptoms/day. Thus, air pollution can be a major contributor to the respiratory problems experienced by children with asthma during the summer months.