Background Severe asthma occurs more often in older adult patients. We hypothesized that the greater risk for severe asthma in older individuals is due to aging, and is independent of asthma duration. Methods This is a cross-sectional study of prospectively collected data from adult participants (N=1130; 454 with severe asthma) enrolled from 2002 - 2011 in the Severe Asthma Research Program. Results The association between age and the probability of severe asthma, which was performed by applying a Locally Weighted Scatterplot Smoother, revealed an inflection point at age 45 for risk of severe asthma. The probability of severe asthma increased with each year of life until 45 years and thereafter increased at a much slower rate. Asthma duration also increased the probability of severe asthma but had less effect than aging. After adjustment for most comorbidities of aging and for asthma duration using logistic regression asthmatics older than 45 maintained the greater probability of severe asthma [OR: 2.73 (95 CI: 1.96; 3.81)]. After 45, the age-related risk of severe asthma continued to increase in men, but not in women. Conclusions Overall, the impact of age and asthma duration on risk for asthma severity in men and women is greatest over times of 18-45 years of age; age has a greater effect than asthma duration on risk of severe asthma.