Since the two components of adult height - leg length and trunk length - are poorly correlated with each other and appear to be influenced by different early life factors, examining their separate influence on breast cancer may provide additional insights into the mechanisms responsible for the positive association between adult height and breast cancer. In a cross-sectional study of 4286 women aged 60-79 years, in whom there were 170 cases of breast cancer, we found total height, leg length and trunk length were all modestly positively and linearly associated with breast cancer. The magnitudes of the associations of leg and trunk length were similar: fully adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of breast cancer for a one standard deviation (s.d.) increase in leg length 1.17 (0.98, 1.39) and for a 1 s.d. increase in trunk length 1.19 (0.99, 1.41). Self-reported birth weight (available on 33% of the sample) was positively and linearly associated with breast cancer: fully adjusted odds ratio of breast cancer for a 1 s.d. increase in birth weight 1.30 (0.93, 1.80). These associations were all independent of each other and other potential confounding factors and are likely to reflect different mechanisms by which factors operating prenatally and prepubertally influence breast cancer risk.