||BACKGROUND: Asthma exacerbations in young children are prevalent. Identification of symptoms or other factors that are precursors of asthma exacerbations would be useful for early treatment and prevention. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether diary symptoms and beta2-agonist use before an exacerbation could predict an asthma exacerbation in children 2 to 5 years of age. METHODS: Post hoc analyses were conducted on data collected in a study of 689 patients 2 to 5 years of age with asthma symptoms, randomly assigned to montelukast, 4 mg, or placebo daily for 12 weeks. During the study, 196 patients had an exacerbation. Caregiver-reported information (daytime cough, breathing difficulties, limitation of activity, nighttime cough or awakening, daytime and nighttime beta2-agonist use) were analyzed using general estimating equations with an exchangeable within-subject log odds ratio regression structure to identify predictors of an exacerbation. RESULTS: Average symptom scores and beta2-agonist use increased significantly before exacerbation but at different rates. A combination of daytime cough and wheeze and nighttime beta2-agonist use 1 day before the exacerbation was identified as strongly predictive of an exacerbation. These methods predicted 149 (66.8%) of the exacerbations with a very low false-positive rate of 14.2%. CONCLUSIONS: No individual symptom was predictive of an imminent asthma exacerbation, but a combination of increased daytime cough, daytime wheeze, and nighttime beta2-agonist use 1 day before an asthma exacerbation was a strong predictor of an exacerbation in children.