The ability of seeds to germinate and establish seedlings in a predictable manner under a range of conditions has a direct contribution to the economic success of commercial crops, and should therefore be considered in crop improvement. We measured traits associated with seed vigour and pre-emergence seedling growth in a segregating population of 105 doubled haploid Brassica oleracea lines. The germination traits measured were: mean germination times for unstressed germination; germination under water stress or germination after a heat treatment; and conductivity of seed leachate. The seedling growth traits measured were: seed weight; seedling growth rate; and seedling size at the end of the exponential growth phase. There were some correlations, notably among germination traits, and between seed weight and pre-emergence seedling growth. Heritability of the various traits was typically in the 10–15% range, with heritability of conductivity and mean germination time under water stress 25 and 24% respectively. Collectively the results indicate that germination and pre-emergence seedling growth are under separate genetic control. Quantitative trait loci analyses were carried out on all measurements and revealed significant loci on linkage groups O1, O3, O6, O7 and O9. We suggest that genes at these loci are important in determining predictable seed germination and seedling establishment in practice.