We considered whether there are discrete windows of vulnerability in the development of cancer and which time periods may be of the greatest importance. Cancer was considered broadly, including cancers in childhood as well as adult cancers that may have an in utero or childhood origin. We concluded that there was evidence from animal and epidemiologic studies for causal relationships for preconceptional, in utero, and childhood exposures and cancer occurrence in children and adults. However, the evidence is incomplete and all relevant critical windows may not have been identified. The comprehensive evaluation of the relative importance of specific time windows of exposure is limited. Improvements in the design of epidemiologic studies and additional animal studies of mechanisms are warranted.