Relations between marital conflict, children's respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and fluid cognitive performance were examined over 3 years to assess allostatic processes. Participants were 251 children reporting on marital conflict, baseline RSA, and RSA reactivity (RSA-R) to a lab challenge were recorded, and fluid cognitive performance was measured using the Woodcock–Johnson III. A cross-lagged model showed that higher levels of marital conflict at age 8 predicted weaker RSA-R at age 9 for children with lower baseline RSA. A growth model showed that lower baseline RSA in conjunction with weaker RSA-R predicted the slowest development of fluid cognitive performance. Findings suggest that stress may affect development of physiological systems regulating attention, which are tied to the development of fluid cognitive performance.