The prevalence of tinea capitis and the symptom-free colonisation of the scalp with dermatophytes were examined in 502 mentally retarded participants who attended day care centers in the Tarsus district, Mersin, Turkey. Between December 2006 and May 2007, a screening study was conducted in three centers on a total of 316 (62.9%) male and 186 (37.1%) female participants aged 12 +/- A 6.2 years. The examinations were carried out in parallel with the hairbrush, toothbrush, and cotton swab methods by inoculation onto Sabouraud glucose agar. No participant was diagnosed with tinea capitis; however, we detected three carriers, all of whom were boys aged 2-16 years. The total prevalence of carrier state was 0.6%. Of three boys, T. tonsurans was seen in two cases (66.7%), and in one case a zoophilic variant of T. mentagrophytes (33.3%) was isolated. The diagnosis was made via the hairbrush method in all three carriers. We also did a screening study on ten households of the three asymptomatic carriers. T. mentagrophytes also was isolated in a 5-year-old sister of the boy with T. mentagrophytes colonisation. All the carriers were followed-up without any antimycotic treatment. In two of the participants, the carrier state persisted at the 13th and 17th week follow-ups, and mycological clearance was documented at the 20th and 24th week for these individuals. The third case and the household's culture were found negative at the 7- and 12-week follow-ups. Despite poor hygienic conditions and the participants' difficulties in performing basic hygiene practices, asymptomatic carriage was found to be surprisingly less prevalent among the mentally retarded individuals.