A history of childhood maltreatment is the most consistently reported characteristic of abusive parents. Retrospective research with nine women imprisoned for fatal child abuse revealed childhood histories of maltreatment. Detailed life histories indicated that the meaning of the abuse to the individual had an important impact on later abusive parenting. The types of childhood abuse varied. Childhood abuse was one in a set of factors contributing to abusive parenting. Retrospective studies underline the need for prospective research on long-term outcomes of childhood abuse.