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Thirty-four children, aged between three and nine years, presenting with nocturnal cough, were studied on successive nights using an automatic voice activated tape recorder system. Children with a family history of atopy coughed significantly more than children without such a family history. A wide variation in cough frequency was found both between and within subjects. No effects of treatment on cough frequency were demonstrated. Some of the physiological and pathological mechanisms underlying night cough are discussed.