Over the past 20 years a large and varied body of research has attempted to make the case for the developmental origins of elevated adult blood pressure (BP). Experimental animal research has identified plausible biological mechanisms through which fetal nutritional insufficiency may affect adult BP. The majority of human epidemiologic studies demonstrate an inverse association of birth weight (the most commonly used marker of fetal nutrition) with adult BP and higher risk of hypertension among individuals with lower weight at birth. The most adverse BP outcomes occur among individuals who were small at birth but relatively large as adults, a finding that suggests a role for postnatal growth. We critically review the literature on proposed mechanisms and epidemiologic evidence for developmental origins of adult BP and hypertension, considering associations with birth weight, maternal nutrition during pregnancy, child growth patterns, and infant feeding.