Prenatal programming refers to the fact that insults during pre- and early postnatal life can have long-term consequences on the health and performance. In diary cattle, physiological conditions, such as maternal body growth, milk yield and parity, and environmental conditions during gestation can create a suboptimal environment for the developing fetus. As a consequence, adaptations of the placental and newborn phenotype take place. In addition, potential long-term effects of prenatal programming influence body growth, fertility, milk yield and longevity in dairy cows. These results suggest that the current management systems may pose a risk for the long-term health and performance of dairy cattle. Hence, in management practices, all pre- and postnatal aspects should carefully be considered in order to raise healthier and more productive dairy cows.