PurposeOne suggested approach to preventing adolescent dating violence is to prevent behavioral precursors to dating violence, such as bullying. However, no longitudinal study has examined bullying as a behavioral precursor to dating violence. In this study, longitudinal data were used to examine 1) whether direct and indirect bullying perpetration in the 6th grade predicted the onset of physical dating violence perpetration by the 8th grade, and 2) whether the associations varied by sex and race/ethnicity of the adolescent. MethodsData were collected in school from 6th graders in three primarily rural counties and then again when students were in the 8th grade. Analyses were conducted with 1,154 adolescents who had not perpetrated dating violence at the 6th grade assessment. The sample was 47% male, 29% black, and 10% of another race/ethnicity than black or white. ResultsDirect bullying, defined as hitting, slapping or picking on another kid in the 6th grade, predicted the onset of physical dating violence perpetration by the 8th grade, controlling for indirect bullying and potential confounders. Although indirect bullying, defined as spreading false rumors and excluding students from friendship groups, was associated with the onset of physical dating violence perpetration in bivariate analyses, it did not predict the onset of physical dating violence when controlling for direct bullying. None of the associations examined varied by sex or race/ethnicity of the adolescents. ConclusionsOur findings suggest that efforts targeted at preventing direct bullying may also prevent the onset of physical dating violence.