OBJECTIVE: To examine relationships between blood pressure during childhood and both placental weight and body size at birth, in an Australian population. DESIGN: A follow up study of a birth cohort, undertaken when cohort members were aged 8 years. SETTING: Adelaide, South Australia. SUBJECTS: 830 children born in the Queen Victoria Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, during 1975-6. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Systolic and diastolic blood pressure measured when the children were aged 8 years. RESULTS: Blood pressure at 8 years was positively related to placental weight and inversely related to birth weight, after adjusting for the child's current weight. For diastolic pressure there was a decrease of 1.0 mm Hg for each 1 kg increase in birth weight (95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.4 to 2.4) and an increase of 0.7 mm Hg for each 100 g increase in placental weight (95% CI = 0.1 to 1.3). Diastolic pressure was also inversely related to chest circumference at birth, independently of placental weight, with a decrease of 0.3 mm Hg for each 1 cm increase in chest circumference (95% CI = 0.2 to 0.5). CONCLUSIONS: These findings are further evidence that birth characteristics, indicative of fetal growth patterns, are related to blood pressure in later life.