The relationship between the Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Der p) I content of house dust and the respiratory symptoms reported for young infants was studied. One hundred and four infants, aged 3-15 months, were selected during July-September 1993 through the Dutch postnatal health care service, using a short screening questionnaire to identify mothers with respiratory allergy to house dust and/or pets. Forty-eight were selected from this group of mothers ("high risk" infants) and 56 infants were selected when neither of the parents reported allergy or chronic respiratory symptoms ("low risk" infants). All homes were visited in October 1993. Dust samples were collected from the infant's mattress and from other places in the home, and the Der p I content was measured in dust extracts. The results indicate that on more than half of the mattresses, the Der p I level was over 2,000 ng.g-1, the level suggested to be associated with an increased risk of sensitization. Information on respiratory symptoms ("wheeze" and "prolonged cough") experienced since birth was obtained by questionnaire from one of the parents on the dust sampling day. The occurrence of respiratory symptoms in the infants appeared to be positively related to the Der p I concentration of the dust. Although no objective measurements of respiratory symptoms were available, the results of this study suggest that exposure to mite allergen in early life may lead to respiratory symptoms that are suggestive of airway obstruction in the first year of life.