As a first step in an intervention study of asthma and allergic diseases among school children, a cross-sectional study was performed during Winter 1996 in three towns (Kiruna, Luleå and Piteå) in the northernmost province of Sweden, Norrbotten. The cross-sectional study aimed to measure the prevalence of asthma, type-1 allergy and allergic diseases in order to make it possible to measure the incidence of the diseases, conditions and symptoms related to the diseases. Another aim was to perform a screening for possible risk factors. All children enrolled in the first and second classes at school, 7 and 8 years old, were invited to take part in this study. The ISAAC questionnaire with added questions about symptoms, morbidity, heredity and environment was distributed by the schools to the parents. The response rate was 97%, and 3431 completed questionnaires were returned. The children in two of the municipalities were also invited to skin test, and 2149 (88%) were tested with 10 common airborne allergens. The results showed that 7% of the children were currently using or had used asthma medicines during the last 12 months. Six percent had asthma diagnosed by a physician, and 4% were using inhaled corticosteroids. The prevalence of wheezing during the last 12 months was 12%, rhinitis without colds 14%, and eczema 27%, while 21% had a positive skin test. The respiratory symptoms and conditions were significantly greater in boys and, further, they were most prevalent in Kiruna in the very north, though not significantly. Type-1 allergy and asthma had different risk factor patterns. The main risk factors for asthma were a family history of asthma (OR = 3.2) followed by past or present house dampness (OR = 1.9), male sex (OR = 1.7) and a smoking mother (OR = 1.6). In Kiruna, when none of these three risk factors were present, none of the children had asthma, but when all three were present, 38% of these children were using asthma medicines.