Effective treatment of respiratory symptoms, airway inflammation and impairment of lung function is the goal of any asthma therapy. Although montelukast has been shown to be a possible add-on therapy for anti-inflammatory treatment in older children, its efficacy in infants and young children is not well known. The aim of this study was to investigate its effect in infants and young children with early childhood asthma.In a prospective randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study, 24 young children (10–26 months) with wheeze, allergy and a positive family history of asthma consistent with the diagnosis of early childhood asthma were randomised to receive montelukast 4 mg or placebo. The forced expiratory volume in 0.5 seconds (FEV0.5) was measured using the raised volume rapid thoracic compression technique, and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and symptom scores were determined.No change was noted in FEV0.5, FeNO or symptom score in the placebo group following the treatment period. In contrast, significant improvements in mean±sd FEV0.5 (189.0±37.8 and 214.4±44.9 mL before and after treatment, respectively), FeNO (29.8±10.0 and 19.0±8.5 ppb) and median symptom score (5.5 and 1.5) were noted following treatment with montelukast.In conclusion, montelukast has a positive effect on lung function, airway inflammation and symptom scores in very young children with early childhood asthma.