Taurine is an abundant, free amino acid found in mammalian cells that contributes to many physiologic functions from that of a simple cell osmolyte to a programmer of adult health and disease. Taurine's contribution extends from conception throughout life, but its most critical exposure period is during perinatal life. In adults, taurine supplementation prevents or alleviates cardiovascular disease and related complications. In contrast, low taurine consumption coincides with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type II diabetes. This review focuses on the effects that altered perinatal taurine exposure has on long-term mechanisms that control adult arterial blood pressure and could thereby contribute to arterial hypertension through its ability to program these cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms very early in life. The modifications of these mechanisms can last a lifetime and transfer to the next generation, suggesting that epigenetic mechanisms underlie the changes. The ability of perinatal taurine exposure to influence arterial pressure control mechanisms and hypertension in adult life appears to involve the regulation of growth and development, the central and autonomic nervous system, the renin-angiotensin system, glucose-insulin interaction and changes to heart, blood vessels and kidney function. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Wien.