The prenatal and perinatal risk factors likely to be associated with specific language impairment (SLI) were examined in this study. A review of existing research showed that there have been few studies on this topic. Among children with SLI, greater rates of near relatives with language learning problems has been found. Data obtained from a case-control study of 177 children with SLI and 925 children without sensory, developmental disorders, or language impairment were studied using a parental questionnaire concerning exposures during the prenatal and perinatal period for the index children. Differences between the children with SLI and controls were found for parental characteristics regarding education, positive history of language and learning problems, tobacco smoking, and breast feeding. No support was found for elevated rates of maternal exposure to disease or occupational chemical substances.