The effect of nutrition during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy in composite beef heifers on reproductive parameters of their female calves was determined in the present study. At artificial insemination, heifers were assigned to one of four treatment groups (i.e. HH, HL, LowH and LL) depending on the level of crude protein intake (H = high; L = low) for first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Gonadotrophin concentrations and ovarian parameters were measured in their female calves at 5 and 23 months of age. Crude protein intake was positively associated with dam plasma urea (P < 0.001). The density of healthy follicles in heifers at the time of death was negatively correlated with dam plasma urea at Day 179 (P = 0.009). Heifers from LowH dams had a smaller-sized prepubertal largest ovarian follicle (P = 0.03) and lower densities of primordial and primary follicles (P = 0.02) and healthy antral follicles (P = 0.009) when they were killed. There was a positive correlation between plasma FSH concentrations at 5 and 23 months of age (P = 0.02), as well as between the sizes of the largest ovarian follicles at 6 and 23 months of age (P = 0.01). In conclusion, the reproductive development of heifers may be affected by prenatal nutrition during early and mid-gestation.