Assessment planning in substance use disorder prevention research entails the identification of measurement domains and the selection of corresponding instruments needed to fulfill specific project goals. The study design, developmental periods examined, feasibility constraints, and anticipated statistical analyses are important considerations in optimally designing the assessment protocol. As a conceptual framework to organize the domains considered here as examples, the multifactorial model of complex disorders with elaborations emphasized by the discipline of developmental psychopathology is applied. Risks reviewed include family history, childhood maltreatment, peer relationships, and psychopathology. The substance involvement dimensions germane as outcomes include substance type, consumption quantity and frequency, and substance-related problems. Comprehensive diachronic evaluation over critical developmental periods provides the technical foundation for etiology and intervention research.