The Generation R Study is a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life until young adulthood. The study is designed to identify early environmental and genetic causes of normal and abnormal growth, development and health during fetal life, childhood and adulthood. The study focuses on four primary areas of research: (1) growth and physical development; (2) behavioural and cognitive development; (3) diseases in childhood; and (4) health and healthcare for pregnant women and children. In total, 9,778 mothers with a delivery date from April 2002 until January 2006 were enrolled in the study. General follow-up rates until the age of 4 years exceed 75%. Data collection in mothers, fathers and preschool children included questionnaires, detailed physical and ultrasound examinations, behavioural observations, and biological samples. A genome wide association screen is available in the participating children. Regular detailed hands on assessment are performed from the age of 5 years onwards. Eventually, results forthcoming from the Generation R Study have to contribute to the development of strategies for optimizing health and healthcare for pregnant women and children.