ALSPAC (The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, formerly the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood) was specifically designed to determine ways in which the individual’s genotype combines with environmental pressures to influence health and development. To date, there are comprehensive data on approximately 10 000 children and their parents, from early pregnancy until the children are aged between 8 and 9. The study aims to continue to collect detailed data on the children as they go through puberty noting, in particular, changes in anthropometry, attitudes and behaviour, fitness and other cardiovascular risk factors, bone mineralisation, allergic symptoms and mental health. The study started early during pregnancy and collected very detailed data from the mother and her partner before the child was born. This not only provided accurate data on concurrent features, especially medication, symptoms, diet and lifestyle, attitudes and behaviour, social and environmental features, but was unbiased by parental knowledge of any problems that the child might develop. From the time of the child’s birth many different aspects of the child’s environment have been monitored and a wide range of phenotypic data collected. By virtue of being based in one geographic area, linkage to medical and educational records is relatively simple, and hands-on assessments of children and parents using local facilities has the advantage of high quality control. The comprehensiveness of the ALSPAC approach with a total population sample unselected by disease status, and the availability of parental genotypes, provides an adequate sample for statistical analysis and for avoiding spurious results. The study has an open policy in regard to collaboration within strict confidentiality rules.