Background: Intergenerational continuity in offending has been assessed in several studies. However, this has rarely been studied using more than two prospective generations. Also, within-gender and cross-gender effects have rarely been addressed. The evidence for mechanisms that may explain transmission is mixed. Method: Using conviction data on five generations (n = 6322) that span the years 1882-2007, transmission from parent to child was studied, disaggregating for males and females. Parental conviction before the birth of the child was studied separately from parental conviction after the birth of the child. Transmission was studied using odds ratios. Results: Parental convictions increase the risk of offspring convictions, although the risk increase is, at around two on average, not extremely high. Delinquency by the mother was also associated with offspring criminality, although because of low prevalence the odds ratios were more variable. Parental delinquency before birth does not lead to increased risk. For serious delinquency, these findings were stronger. Conclusions: The study suggests that nurture rather than hereditary or labelling mechanisms may play a role in intergenerational continuity. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.