A wide range of health benefits have been ascribed to soya intake including a lowered risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and menopausal symptoms. Because it is a hormonally active diet, however, soya can also be endocrine disrupting, suggesting that intake has the potential to cause adverse health effects in certain circumstances, particularly when exposure occurs during development. Consequently, the question of whether or not soya phyto-oestrogens are beneficial or harmful to human health is neither straightforward nor universally applicable to all groups. Possible benefits and risks depend on age, health status, and even the presence or absence of specific gut microflora. As global consumption increases, greater awareness and consideration of the endocrine-disrupting properties of soya by nutrition specialists and other health practitioners is needed. Consumption by infants and small children is of particular concern because their hormone-sensitive organs, including the brain and reproductive system, are still undergoing sexual differentiation and maturation. Thus, their susceptibility to the endocrine-disrupting activities of soya phyto-oestrogens may be especially high. As oestrogen receptor partial agonists with molecular and cellular properties similar to anthropogenic endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol A, the soya phyto-oestrogens provide an interesting model for how attitudes about what is ‘synthetic’ v. what is ‘natural,’ shapes understanding and perception of what it means for a compound to be endocrine disrupting and/or potentially harmful. This review describes the endocrine-disrupting properties of soya phyto-oestrogens with a focus on neuroendocrine development and behaviour.