In older white American adults, recent retrospective studies have demonstrated a relationship between lower birth weight and hypertension. Black Americans have a higher occurrence of both lower birth weight and hypertension than do white Americans. To test the low birth weight-high blood pressure hypothesis, data from a prospective study (Perinatal Collaborative Project) were examined. The study followed a sample of 137 black Americans, with nine examinations. Data on birth weight, growth, and blood pressure from birth through 28.0+/-2.7 years were obtained longitudinally. Bivariate correlations among parameters were computed with the Pearson r. Birth weight and blood pressure at age 28 years are not correlated (Pearson r=.06). However, systolic blood pressures measured at 0.3 years and thereafter are correlated with adult systolic blood pressure. Also, weight at 0.3 years and body mass index at 7 years and thereafter are correlated with adult weight. Our data did not confirm the birth weight-blood pressure hypothesis. Rather, we detected significant correlations between preadult measurements of blood pressure and weight with adult measurements. These results indicate that in black Americans, childhood growth is a stronger determinant than intrauterine growth of adult blood pressure.