The factors determining hatchling mass (HM) are investigated in a wide range of birds and reptiles using regression analysis, analysis of covariance and comparative analysis by independent contrasts. In birds, initial egg mass (IEM) at laying is the most important factor affecting HM and phylogenetic relatedness has no significant effects on HM. Developmental maturity of the avian neonates did not affect the proportion of IEM converted into HM. For all reptile species, IEM also significantly affected HM but phylogenetic relatedness did not. By contrast, allometric relationships between IEM and HM in the different orders of reptiles were affected by shell type. The robustness of allometric relationships across taxa in birds and reptiles suggests that there is a physiological link between IEM and HM, which contrasts with that observed for the relationship between egg mass and incubation period. This result has significant implications for the inter-relationships between IEM and embryonic growth, which are discussed for birds and reptiles.