The effect of breast feeding on some clinical and thyroid function parameters was studied in a prospective longitudinal study from birth up to 7 years of age. At the ages 1-7 years, the obesity rates observed in children breast-fed for less than 3 months were substantially higher than in children who had been breast-fed over longer intervals. Mean age when obesity was reported was similar in all groups (4-5 years). The rates of respiratory tract diseases were found to be highest in children which had been breast-fed for less than 2 weeks. Breast-feeding for more than 6 months had a protective effect against diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The longitudinal follow-up revealed biphasic changes of thyroid hormones and TSH in sera with a nadir at 2-3 years, followed by an increase at the end of preschool age. Duration of breast-feeding did not affect profoundly these parameters at the ages 1-7 years. Surprisingly, during late preschool age (5-6 years) total serum cholesterol increased with the age at weaning. The atherogenic index in 6-year-old children was most favourable in the group breast-fed over more than 1 but less than 3 months. This was due to the highest levels of HDL-cholesterol in this group. We conclude that the age at weaning may be important for the later development of children.