The present study investigated the effects of variations in maternal behavior on the development of maternal behavior of female offspring in BALB/c and CBA/Ca inbred mice. In Experiment 1, we conducted fostering within or between the two strains and observed the maternal behaviors of mothers and female offspring for 2 weeks postpartum. Although fostering changed the maternal behavior of mothers in both strains, CBA mothers generally showed greater frequency of nursing posture and pup licking than BALB mothers. BALB female offspring reared by CBA mothers showed more body licking than those reared by BALB mothers, whereas fostering did not affect the maternal behavior of CBA female offspring. In Experiment 2, we examined the maternal behavior of females of F1 hybrids derived from reciprocal crosses between the two strains to confirm the maternal effect demonstrated in Experiment 1. Female F1 hybrids from CBA mothers showed more arched-back nursing, body licking, and nest building than those from BALB mothers. These results suggested that maternal care affect the development of maternal behavior in inbred mice, though the contributions of genetic and prenatal factors cannot be ignored. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev. Psychobiol 51: 345–357, 2009.