The aim of this work was to examine the associations of average weight and weight velocity in three growth periods from birth through adolescence with type 2 diabetes incidence.Child participants were selected from a 43 year longitudinal study of American Indians to represent three growth periods: pre-adolescence (birth to ~8 years); early adolescence (~8 to ~13 years); and late adolescence (~13 to ~18 years). Age-, sex- and height-standardised weight z score mean and weight z score velocity (change/year) were computed for each period. Participants were followed for up to 25 years from the end of each growth period until they developed diabetes. Associations of weight z score mean or weight z score velocity with diabetes incidence were determined with sex-, birth date- and maternal diabetes-adjusted Poisson regression models.Among 2100 participants representing the pre-adolescence growth period, 1558 representing the early adolescence period and 1418 representing the late adolescence period, there were 290, 315 and 380 incident diabetes cases, respectively. During the first 10 years of follow-up, the diabetes incidence rate ratio (95% CI) was 1.72 (1.40, 2.11)/SD of log10 weight z score mean in pre-adolescence, 2.09 (1.68, 2.60)/SD of log10 weight z score mean in early adolescence and 1.85 (1.58, 2.17)/SD of log10 weight z score mean in late adolescence. The diabetes incidence rate ratio (95% CI) was 1.79 (1.49, 2.17)/SD of log10 weight z score velocity in pre-adolescence, 1.13 (0.91, 1.41)/SD of log10 weight z score velocity in early adolescence and 1.29 (1.09, 1.51)/SD of log10 weight z score velocity in late adolescence. There were strong correlations in the weight z score means and weak correlations in the weight z score velocities between successive periods.Higher weight and accelerated weight gain in all growth periods associate with increased type 2 diabetes risk. Importantly, higher weight and greater weight velocity during pre-adolescence jointly associate with the highest type 2 diabetes risk. Graphical abstract.