Growth and development of 207 children (49% males; mean age 5.4 years [SD 0.2], range 4 to 7.3 years whose mothers received iodine during pregnancy, and children who received iodine first in their 2nd year, were examined in 1996; 192 children (49% males; mean age 6.5 years[SD 0.2], range 5.8 to 6.9 years) whose mothers received iodine while pregnant were seen in 1998. Children were from the southern part of China's Xinjiang Province which has the lowest levels of iodine in water and soil ever recorded. Head circumference but not height was improved for those who received iodine during pregnancy (compared with those receiving iodine at age 2) and for those supplemented before the end of the 2nd trimester (relative to those supplemented during the 3rd trimester). Iodine before the 3rd trimester predicted higher psychomotor test scores for children relative to those provided iodine later in pregnancy or at 2 years. Results from the test for cognitive development resulted in trend only differences between those children supplemented during pregnancy versus later. The results address the question of when maternal iodine supplements should begin in public health programs world wide. Findings may be relevant to the treatment of maternal and newborn thyroid deficiency in industrialized countries, particularly for those infants delivered before the end of the second trimester.