The population-based twin registries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden represent an extraordinary resource for scientific research. Although each register has its own history and composition, they share certain common qualities. All the Nordic countries have a long tradition of population registration, a high standard of living and health-related registers of high quality. The large size of the registers means that they are uniquely placed for representative studies of rare occurrences. Examples of studies that these registers make possible are illustrated with data from the Finnish Twin Cohort, which in its first phase consisted of over 17,000 like-sexed twin pairs born before 1958. It has been recently expanded to include multiple births between 1958 and 1986 (nearly 23,000 sets) and their first-degree relatives. During this period the DZ/MZ ratio decreased, while an increase in MZ twinning rates was observed between 1974 and 1986.