Does childhood poverty lead to adult poverty? Evidence shows childhood is a sensitive period for developing cognition, physical vitality and personality. This is traceable to specific behavioural and biological mechanisms. However such science could easily drive over-deter ministic views about how childhood affects later life. The paper therefore discusses how damage from childhood poverty can—at least sometimes and partially—be resisted or reversed, both during childhood and in adulthood. As people reach biological maturity, alterations to their developmental trajectories rely increasingly on alterations in behavioural relationships. Opportunities remain vital throughout life for sustained socioeconomic attainment. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.