Findings are presented of a comparative study investigating the family relationships and the emotional and gender development of children raised in lesbian mother families. A total of 30 lesbian mother families with 4-8 year old children created as a result of donor insemination (DI) were compared with 38 heterosexual families with a DI child and with 30 heterosexual families who had a naturally conceived child. A variety of assessment measures, including a standardized interview and questionnaires from the parents and psychological testing of the child were used to collect the data. The quality of the couples' relationships and the quality of the mother-child interaction did not differ between lesbian mother families and either of the heterosexual family groups. The quality of the interaction between the social mother and the child in lesbian families was superior to that between the father and the child in both groups of heterosexual families. Childrens' own perception of their parents was similar in all family types; the social mother in lesbian families was regarded by the child to be as much a 'parent' as the father in both types of heterosexual families. With regard to their emotional/behavioural development, boys and girls raised in lesbian mother families were well adjusted and their gender role development did not differ from that of children raised in heterosexual families. These results indicate that child and family development in lesbian mother families is similar to that of heterosexual families.