This mini-monograph was developed to highlight the experiences of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Centers for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research, focusing particularly on several areas of interest for the National Children's Study. These include general methodologic issues for conducting longitudinal birth cohort studies and community-based participatory research and for measuring air pollution exposures, pesticide exposures, asthma, and neurobehavioral toxicity. Rather than a detailed description of the studies in each of the centers, this series of articles is intended to provide information on the practicalities of conducting such intensive studies and the lessons learned. This explication of lessons learned provides an outstanding opportunity for the planners of the National Children's Study to draw on past experiences that provide information on what has and has not worked when studying diverse multiracial and multiethnic groups of children with unique urban and rural exposures. The Children's Centers have addressed and overcome many hurdles in their efforts to understand the link between environmental exposures and health outcomes as well as interactions between exposures and a variety of social and cultural factors. Some of the major lessons learned include the critical importance of long-term studies for assessing the full range of developmental consequences of environmental exposures, recognition of the unique challenges presented at different life stages for both outcome and exposure measurement, and the importance of ethical issues that must be dealt with in a changing medical and legal environment. It is hoped that these articles will be of value to others who are embarking on studies of children's environmental health.