Early indicators of schizophrenic outcomes were sought in a group of children of chronically ill schizophrenic women. A sample of pregnant women with varying degrees of mental illness were examined during the perinatal period and recruited into a 4-year longitudinal evaluation, which included cognitive, psychomotor, social, and emotional assessments at birth, 4, 12, 30, and 48 months of age. The mothers varied on mental health dimensions of diagnosis, severity of symptomatology, and chronicity of illness. Other factors included in the analyses were socioeconomic status (SES), race, sex of child, and family size. Hypotheses were tested to determine the relative impact of three sets of variables on the child's behavior: (1) specific maternal psychiatric diagnosis, (2) severity and chronicity of disturbance independent of diagnosis, and (3) general social status. We found that a specific maternal diagnosis of schizophrenia had the least impact. Neurotic-depressive mothers produced worse development in their children than schizophrenic or personality-disordered mothers. Both social status and severity/chronicity of illness showed a greater impact on development. Children of more severely or chronically ill mothers and lower-SES black children performed most poorly. These results do not support etiological models based on simple biological or environmental transmission of schizophrenia. The role of social and family environmental factors in predicting child cognitive and socialemotional competence was further evaluated using a multiple risk index. Children with high multiple environmental risk scores had much worse outcomes than children with low multiple risk scores.