This study examined the relation between maternal prepregnant body mass index (BMI) and development of schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders in adult offspring from the Prenatal Determinants of Schizophrenia Study. The study drew on a previously studied cohort of births occurring between 1959 and 1967 to women enrolled in a prepaid health plan. Computerized treatment registries were used to identify possible cases of schizophrenia and spectrum disorders in adult offspring belonging to the health plan from 1981 to 1997. Diagnostic interviews and medical record reviews resulted in diagnosis of 63 cases of schizophrenia and spectrum disorders; these cases and 6,570 unrelated and unaffected cohort members whose mothers also had prepregnancy measures of BMI comprised the sample for analyses. High (> or = 30.0), compared with average (20.0-26.9), maternal prepregnant BMI (kg/m2) was significantly associated with schizophrenia and spectrum disorders in the adult offspring (relative risk [RR] = 2.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-6.6), independently of maternal age, parity, race, education, or cigarette smoking during pregnancy. Low (< or = 19.9) maternal BMI was not associated with schizophrenia and spectrum disorders (RR = 1.2; 95% CI 0.64-2.2). Future studies of this cohort will examine factors that may help explain the relationship of high maternal prepregnant BMI with schizophrenia, including nutritional and metabolic factors, toxic exposures, and obstetrical complications.