Women living in energetically stressful conditions have significantly lower baseline salivary steroid levels compared to those in affluent environments. Developmental hypotheses suggest that interpopulation variation in ovarian function results from contrasting environments experienced during growth. We use a migrant study of Bangladeshi women to test this hypothesis. We compared middle-class women (19–39 years) who migrated to London, UK, at different life-stages (pre and postmenarche), with Bangladeshi sedentees, second-generation British-Bangladeshis, and white British women living in similar London neighborhoods (total n = 227). We analyzed levels of salivary estradiol for one menstrual cycle, together with data on anthropometry, diet, lifestyle, and migration and reproductive histories. Results from multiple linear regression models, controlling for anthropometric and reproductive variables, show no significant differences in baseline estradiol levels between groups whether all cycles or just ovulatory cycles are analyzed. We also found no correlation between age at migration or time since migration on estradiol levels, nor between adult estradiol levels and age at menarche. Our results differ from previous reports of significantly lower salivary estradiol levels in populations living in more extreme ecological settings. They also contrast with our previous findings of significant intergroup differences in baseline levels of salivary progesterone. However, women who spent their childhood in Sylhet have a lower proportion of ovulatory cycles compared to women who developed in Britain. These group differences in ovulation frequency indicate more qualitative effects of contrasting developmental environments. We discuss possible explanations for differences in response between progesterone and estradiol, as well as broader implications of our findings. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.