Prevalence of and risk factors for asthma were examined in 1085 Head Start families at 18 Head Start sites in four high-risk community areas in 1994. A total of 13.9% of the families reported diagnosed asthma in their Head Start child and 18.8% reported that their child wheezed in the last 12 months. A total of 26.9% of respondents reported asthma in the immediate family of the child. Low birth weight (1500-2499 g), very low birth weight (<1500 g), and self-reported exposure to dampness or mold in the last 12 months were significantly associated with self-reported diagnosed asthma (OR = 1.93; 95% CI 1.17-8.73), (OR = 4.5; 95% CI 1.25-16.3), and (OR = 1.94; 95% CI 1.23-3.04), respectively. The young age of the children in Head Start, as well as the high prevalence of asthma in their families, suggest that the Head Start programs offer an unusual opportunity for asthma prevention programs.