: Foetal growth from conception to birth is a complex process predetermined by the genetic configuration of the foetus, the availability of nutrients and oxygen to the foetus, maternal nutrition and various growth factors and hormones of maternal, foetal and placental origin. Maintenance of the optimal foetal environment is the key factor of the future quality of life. Such conditions like inadequate nutrition and oxygen supply, infection, hypertension, gestational diabetes or drug abuse by the mother, expose the foetus to nonphysiological environment. In conditions of severe intrauterine deprivation, there is a potential loss of structural units within the developing organ systems affecting their functionality and efficiency. Extensive human epidemiologic and animal model data indicate that during critical periods of prenatal and postnatal mammalian development, nutrition and other environmental stimuli influence developmental pathways and thereby induce permanent changes in metabolism and chronic disease susceptibility. The studies reviewed in this article show how environmental factors influence a diverse array of molecular mechanisms and consequently alter disease risk including diseases such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus, neuropsychiatric disorders, osteoporosis, asthma and immune system diseases.