Asthma mortality rates for California youths (ages 5-17 years) were examined over the period 1981-1995. Data were analyzed by Poisson regression from the California Departments of Vital Statistics, Finance, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Aggregate statewide mortality demonstrated a 2.01%, statistically insignificant, upward trend without geographic clustering. Stratified race/ ethnicity rates differed significantly, with African-American mortality twice that of the Caucasian population. In addition, an increased number of deaths occurred in households of African-Americans, Caucasians (including Hispanics), and Hispanics with incomes below statewide medians. This study on California youths differs from reports on larger populations with its minimal aggregate increase in asthma mortality, yet mirrors national trends of disproportionate impact on African-Americans and the economically disadvantaged.