Background Asthma is a serious global health problem. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between cold spells and pediatric outpatient visits for asthma. Objective To examine the association between cold spells and pediatric outpatient visits for asthma in Shanghai, China. Methods We collected daily data on pediatric outpatient visits for asthma, mean temperature, relative humidity, and ozone from Shanghai between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2009. We defined cold spells as four or more consecutive days with temperature below the 5th percentile of temperature during 2007–2009. We used a Poisson regression model to examine the impact of temperature on pediatric outpatient visits for asthma in cold seasons during 2007 and 2009. We examined the effect of cold spells on asthma compared with non-cold spell days. Results There was a significant relationship between cold temperatures and pediatric outpatient visits for asthma. The cold effects on children's asthma were observed at different lags. The lower the temperatures, the higher the risk for asthma attacks among children. Conclusion Cold temperatures, particularly cold spells, significantly increase the risk of pediatric outpatient visits for asthma. The findings suggest that asthma children need to be better protected from cold effects in winter.