We have studied 477 8-year-old Indian children to define the relationship between birth weight and cardiovascular risk factors, including insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) variables and plasma total and LDL cholesterol concentrations. All risk factors were strongly related to current weight. After adjustment for current weight, age, and sex, lower birth weight was associated with higher systolic blood pressure (P = 0.008), fasting plasma insulin and 32-33 split proinsulin concentrations (P = 0.08 and 0.02), glucose and insulin concentrations 30 min postglucose (P = 0.06 and 0.04), subscapular/triceps skinfold ratio (P = 0.003), and plasma total and LDL cholesterol concentrations (P = 0.002 and 0.001). Lower birth weight was associated with increased calculated insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment [HOMA], P = 0.03), but was not related to the HOMA index of beta-cell function. The highest levels of IRS variables and total and LDL cholesterol were in children of low birth weight but high fat mass at 8 years. Taller height at 8 years predicted higher fasting plasma insulin concentrations, insulin resistance, and plasma total and LDL cholesterol concentrations. The most insulin-resistant children were those who had short parents but had themselves grown tall. Although the implications of our findings in relation to height are unclear, interventions to improve fetal growth and to control obesity in childhood are likely to be important factors in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and IRS in India.