We investigated the role of maternal alcohol and coffee drinking during pregnancy and that of parental smoking in the aetiology of childhood leukaemia. A French, population-based, case-control study was conducted, comparing 472 [407 acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and 62 acute myeloblastic leukaemia] cases of childhood acute leukaemia (AL) and 567 population controls, frequency-matched with cases on age, gender and region of residence. Both case and control mothers filled in a comprehensive self-administered standardised questionnaire, eliciting detailed data on maternal alcohol and coffee consumption during pregnancy and parental smoking before, during and after pregnancy. Maternal alcohol consumption of more than 1 drink per day was related to ALL (OR = 2.8 [95% CI 1.8, 5.9]). While maternal coffee consumption was not significantly related to AL (OR = 1.4 [95% CI 0.9, 2.3]), highest intake of coffee (more than 3 cups per day) during pregnancy was associated with AL in children whose mothers were non-smokers (OR = 1.9 [95% CI 1.0, 3.5]). No association with parental smoking, either maternal or paternal, was observed with AL. The present results suggest a possible role of the highest consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy in the aetiology of childhood AL.