BACKGROUND There is limited evidence for the impacts of meteorological changes on asthma hospital admissions in adults in Shanghai, China. OBJECTIVES To quantitatively evaluate the short-term effects of daily mean temperature on asthma hospital admissions. METHODS Daily hospital admissions for asthma and daily mean temperatures between January 2005 and December 2012 were analyzed. After controlling for secular and seasonal trends, weather, air pollution and other confounding factors, a Poisson generalized additive model (GAM) combined with a distributed lag non-linear model were used to explore the associations between temperature and hospital admissions for asthma. RESULTS During the study periods, there were 15,678 hospital admissions for asthma by residents of Shanghai, an average 5.6 per day. Pearson correlation analysis found a significant negative correlation (r = -0.174, P<0.001) between asthma hospitalizations and daily mean temperature (DMT). The DMT effect on asthma increased below the median DMT, with lower temperatures associated with a higher risk of hospital admission for asthma. Generally, the cold effect appeared to be relatively acute, with duration lasting several weeks, while the hot effect was short-term. The relative risk of asthma hospital admissions associated with cold temperature (the 25th percentile of temperature relative to the median temperature) was 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01∼1.41) at lag0-14. However, warmer temperatures were not associated with asthma hospital admissions. CONCLUSIONS Cold temperatures may trigger asthmatic attacks. Effective strategies are needed to protect populations at risk from the effects of cold.