Developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) focuses on the earliest stages of human development, and provides a novel paradigm to complement other strategies for lifelong prevention of common chronic health conditions. The 3 International Congress on DOHaD, held in 2005, retained the most popular features from the first two biannual Congresses, while adding a number of innovations, including increased emphasis on implications of DOHaD for the developing world; programs for trainees and young investigators; and new perspectives, including developmental plasticity, influences of social hierarchies, effects of prematurity, and populations in transition. Emerging areas of science included, first, the controversial role of infant weight gain in predicting adult obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Second, in the era of epidemic obesity, paying attention to the over-nourished fetus is as important as investigating the growth retarded one. Third, environmental toxins appear to have abroad range of long-lasting effects on the developing human. Fourth, epigenetic mechanisms could unite several strands of human and animal observations, and explain how genetically identical individuals raised in similar postnatal environments can nonetheless develop widely differing phenotypes. Improving the environment to which an individual is exposed during development may be as important as any other public health effort to enhance population health world wide.