Structural brain differences have been reported in many studies with schizophrenia, but few have involved a general population birth cohort. We investigated differences in volume, shape and laterality of hippocampus and amygdala in patients with schizophrenia, all psychoses and comparison subjects within a large general birth cohort sample, and explored effects of family history of psychosis, perinatal risk and age-at-onset of illness. All subjects with psychosis from the Northern Finland 1966 birth cohort were invited to a survey including MRI scan of the brain, conducted in 1999-2001. Comparison subjects not known to have psychosis were randomly selected from the same cohort. Volumes of hippocampus and amygdala were measured in 56 subjects with DSM-III-R schizophrenia, 26 patients with other psychoses and 104 comparison subjects. Small hippocampal volume reductions in schizophrenia (2%) and all psychoses (3%) were not significant when adjusted for total brain volume. The shape of hippocampus in schizophrenia did not differ significantly from comparison subjects. Right hippocampus and amygdala were significantly larger than the left in all groups. Mean amygdala volume in schizophrenia or all psychoses did not differ from comparison subjects. Patients with family history of psychosis had larger hippocampus than patients without. Neither perinatal risk nor age-at-onset of illness had any effect on hippocampal or amygdala volumes. Small hippocampal volume reduction in schizophrenia and all psychoses was not disproportionate to reduced whole brain volume in this population-based sample. Perinatal events that have been suggested as of etiological importance in structural pathology of psychosis had no effect.