Entering pregnancy with overweight, obesity or gaining excessive gestational weight could increase the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), which is associated with negative consequences for both the mother and the offspring. The objective of this article was to review scientific evidence regarding the association between obesity and GDM, and how weight management through nutritional prevention strategies could prove successful in reducing the risk for GDM. Studies published between January 1975 and January 2009 on the relationship between GDM, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain and nutritional prevention strategies were included in this review. Results from these reports suggest that maternal obesity assessed by pre-pregnancy BMI is associated with an increased risk of GDM. They also show an association between gestational weight gain and increased risk for GDM. Higher dietary fat and lower carbohydrate intakes during pregnancy appear to be associated with a higher risk for GDM, independent of pre-pregnancy BMI. Some studies showed that restricting energy and carbohydrates could minimize gestational weight gain. However, a firm conclusion on the most effective nutritional intervention for the control of gestational weight gain and glycaemic responses could not be reached based on available studies. In light of the studies reviewed, we conclude that weight management through nutritional prevention strategies could be successful in reducing the risk of GDM. Further studies are required to identify the most effective diet composition to prevent GDM and excessive gestational weight gain. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.