The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of asymptomatic dermatophyte scalp carriage and symptomatic tinea capitis in Adana Province, Cukurova region, Turkey. For this purpose, a screening study was performed in five schools, between January 2004 and May 2005, covering a total of 5143 children with 2740 (53.3%) boys and 2403 (46.7%) girls, aged 7-14 years (9.6 +/- 2.0). The diagnosis was made using the cotton swab method with inoculation onto Sabouraud glucose agar amended with cycloheximide, chloramphenicol and gentamicin. Among 10 (0.2%) cases, six asymptomatic carriers (mean age 10.7 +/- 2.3) and four symptomatic cases (mean age 8.3 +/- 0.5) were detected, all of whom were boys and had immigrated from the south-eastern and eastern region of Anatolia, Turkey. The mean age differences were found to be statistically significant (Mann-Whitney U = 3.000, P = 0.046). Boys were found to be more prone to asymptomatic carriage (P = 0.033), but not tinea capitis (P > 0.05). Zoophilic dermatophytes, namely Microsporum canis (40%) and Trichophyton mentagrophytes var. mentagrophytes (40%) were the most commonly isolated species, followed by anthropophilic Trichophyton tonsurans (10%), while no causative agent was detected in a case (10%) with tinea capitis superficialis. Scalp cultures were found to be dermatophyte-negative after 3- to 8-month follow-up in cases with asymptomatic carriage. As a conclusion, the prevalence of asymptomatic carrier state was similar with the prevalence of symptomatic cases, and we found a predominance of zoophilic species.