We describe a unique human DNA resource forming part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood (ALSPAC), a longitudinal cohort study involving 14 000 children and their families living in a geographically defined area of England. The DNA bank will underpin the search for associations between genetic polymorphisms and common health outcomes. The opportunities to collect blood samples suitable for DNA extraction are necessarily limited, and the samples themselves have often been treated in different ways and have varied storage histories. With the need to maximise yields, the choice of DNA extraction method is critical to the success of the bank and we have investigated the suitability of various commercial and in-house methods of DNA extraction. Various steps have been taken to minimise errors in sample address and identification, including the use of a pipetting robot for dilution and transfer of samples between 96-well arrays to provide aliquots suitable for PCR. The robot has been programmed to cope with concentrated viscous DNA solutions.