This study uses quantitative and qualitative methods for describing the nature of US adolescent mothers' pregnancies and parenting experiences and children's health and development. The sample was drawn from mothers who attended the Teen Obstetrical Perinatal and Parenting Service (TOPPS) clinic at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences during 1985-88 and were followed up later in their homes. Reference is made in the literature review to five child-rearing practices among adolescent mothers: insensitivity to infant cues, preference for physical punishment, a pattern of nonverbal interaction, lack of knowledge of child development, and an inadequate learning environment in the home. Descriptive statistics among the study population apply to pregnancy, education, developmental status of children, parenting attitudes, and maternal perceptions of family support, clinic advice, and the maternal role variables. Mothers reported on the status of child health and nutrition, positive and negative characteristics of their child, and discipline. In general, adolescent mothers were found to become pregnant largely due to misunderstandings about reproduction and birth control. Adolescent mothers continued to be at risk for subsequent unplanned pregnancies. Most adolescent mothers completed high school. Most children were developmentally on track for their age. Adolescent mothers were found to be at risk for non-nurturing behaviors, such as inappropriate expectations and reversal of parenting roles. Mothers could identify available support systems. Most would have postponed the pregnancy. Most had realistic perceptions of their children and provided basic health care. It is suggested that adolescent mothers should continue to receive developmentally appropriate services. Education about abstinence and contraception is needed as well as education aimed at promoting self-esteem, interpersonal skills, and age-appropriate development of adolescent parents and children.