Atopic diseases are common and becoming more prevalent. Efforts have focused on primary disease prevention by identifying high-risk children and applying preventative strategies. Our aim was to evaluate methods used to identify high-risk children in atopy prevention studies. A literature search for relevant articles published between 1986 and 2006 was conducted, and all abstracts were reviewed. The search yielded 1,535 publications, 133 were reviewed in detail, and 57 met inclusion criteria. High risk was defined by 30 different methods. First-degree relatives with an atopic disorder were included in all methods, but only three publications used referenced questionnaires to determine this. Less frequently included were cord blood immunoglobulin E measurements and skin prick or radioallergosorbent testing, and 16 methods relied on history alone. Family history was the most common method used to predict high risk of atopic disease in a child, but a minority of studies used a tested questionnaire to determine the presence of atopy in family members. The methods used to identify high-risk children are variable, and the development and widespread use of a validated, practical screening tool is needed.