BACKGROUND: Onychomycosis is a rare disorder in children. Few studies exist on the incidence or prevalence of onychomycosis in children. OBJECTIVE: To examine the epidemiology of childhood onychomycosis in Iceland during the period 1982-2000. METHODS: Results from all mycological samples taken from children in Iceland from 1982 to 2000 were examined. Information about the requesting physician, unique social security number, date of birth, sex, results of culture and microscopy were registered. Growth of a dermatophyte was taken as an indication of a case of onychomycosis. RESULTS: During the period 1982-2000 a total of 493 samples from 408 Icelandic children, aged 0-17 years, were examined. Dermatophytes were cultured from 148 (30.0%) samples. During the period 1982-85, the mean annual incidence of positive cultures was 1.65 per 100,000, increasing to 21.30 per 100,000 for the years 1996-2000. Trichophyton rubrum was the dominating organism and was found in 102/148 cases positive for the growth of a dermatophyte. The incidence of positive dermatophyte cultures increased with age and was found in eight children aged 0-4, and in 57 children aged 10-14 years. CONCLUSION: Onychomycosis is rare in children, but increases with age. It seems that onychomycosis increased during the study period, but it is not clear if this was due to a true increase in the prevalence of onychomycosis or an increased awareness of onychomycosis, or both.