Empirical findings show that morbidity and mortality risks of migrants can differ considerably from those of populations in the host countries. However, while several explanatory models have been developed, most migrant studies still do not consider explicitly the situation of migrants before migration. Here, we discuss an extended approach to understand migrant health comprising a life course epidemiology perspective.The incorporation of a life course perspective into a conceptual framework of migrant health enables the consideration of risk factors and disease outcomes over the different life phases of migrants, which is necessary to understand the health situation of migrants and their offspring. Comparison populations need to be carefully selected depending on the study questions under consideration within the life course framework.Migrant health research will benefit from an approach using a life course perspective. A critique of the theoretical foundations of migrant health research is essential for further developing both the theoretical framework of migrant health and related empirical studies.