During the last two decades, a considerable body of evidence has emerged showing that circumstances during the fetal period and childhood may have lifelong programming effects on different body functions with a considerable impact on disease susceptibility. From a medical point of view, these long-term effects are today referred to as the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concept. The DOHaD concept may have a fundamental impact on our ideas about when and how to intervene in order to prevent aging-related loss of function and disease. The aim of this review is to provide a synopsis of epidemiological findings relating early-life conditions with key aging-related disorders, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, cognitive impairments and osteoporosis. There are several mechanisms that have been suggested as linking early-life events with late-life disease. This review will discuss programming of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function as one of the best characterised examples of such mechanisms.