Recent research documents that socioeconomic health inequality has its origins in early childhood, that is, children from high-income families have better health than their peers from low-income families. In this article, we investigate the determinants of the evolution of socioeconomic health inequality in the UK. We analyze the relation between household income and both the prevalence and the consequences of adverse health conditions by following up infants throughout early childhood. We find evidence for the hypothesis that parental income operates through two different channels: it reduces the likelihood of incurring certain illnesses and it cushions the consequences of health conditions. Our results also indicate that a higher household income increases the probability that children fully recover from some diseases within a given period. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.