Maternal periconceptional (PC) nutrition, coupled with maternal physiological condition, can impact on reproductive performance and potential across mammalian species. Oocyte quality and embryo development are affected adversely by either nutrient restriction or excess. Moreover, the quality of maternal PC nutrition can have lasting effects through fetal development and postnatally into adulthood. Chronic disease, notably cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and abnormal behaviour have been identified in adult offspring in small and large animal models of PC nutrient restriction. These long-term effects associate with compensatory responses that begin from the time of early embryo development. This review assesses the field of PC nutrition in vivo on short- and long-term developmental consequences in rodent and ruminant models and considers the implications for human health.