The Human Health Assessment Group has over the past decade recommended that effect studies be conducted in the circumpolar area. Such studies examine the association between contaminant exposure in the Arctic populations and health effects. Because foetuses and young children are the most vulnerable, effect studies are often prospective child cohort studies. The emphasis in this article is on a description of the effects associated with contaminant exposure in the Arctic. The main topics addressed are neurobehavioural, immunological, reproductive, cardiovascular, endocrine and carcinogenic effect. For each topic, the association between exposure and effects is described, and some results are reported for similar studies outside the Arctic.