It has been suggested that risks of hypertension and cardiovascular disease begin in utero and that maternal nutrition plays an important role. We have examined the relation between maternal factors and BP in a study of 1,311 children in which physical measurements at 9-11 years of age have been linked to a parental questionnaire; birth record data were also available in a subsample of 662 children. Maternal height was inversely related to childhood BP after adjustment for the child's current height. However, several social factors related to maternal nutrition in pregnancy in earlier studies (including social class, housing tenure, maternal educational attainment and maternal smoking in pregnancy) showed weak and inconsistent relations with BP at 9-11 years. Minimum maternal haemoglobin in pregnancy and change in mean corpuscular volume in pregnancy (identified as potentially important markers of maternal nutrition in earlier studies) showed no consistent relationships either with placental weight to birthweight ratio or with childhood BP, although both factors showed strong inverse associations with birthweight. The association between maternal height and childhood BP may reflect the influence of early life factors on cardiovascular risk. However, the absence of consistent relationships between social factors and BP in offspring provides little support for the possibility that maternal diet is an important influence on cardiovascular risk factors in childhood. Minimum maternal haemoglobin and change in maternal mean corpuscular volume are unlikely to be specific markers of maternal nutrition in pregnancy. More specific hypotheses relating maternal nutrition to the development of cardiovascular risk in offspring are required.