We investigated the reliability and (convergent and discriminant) validity of an observational measure of physical aggression in toddlers and preschoolers, originally developed by Keenan and Shaw . The observation instrument is based on a developmental definition of aggression. Physical aggression was observed twice in a laboratory setting, the first time when children were 1-3 years old, and again 1 year later. Observed physical aggression was significantly related to concurrent mother-rated physical aggression for 2- to 4-year-olds, but not to maternal ratings of nonaggressive externalizing problems, indicating the measure's discriminant validity. However, we did not find significant 1-year stability of observed physical aggression in any of the age groups, whereas mother-rated physical aggression was significantly stable for all ages. The observational measure shows promise, but may have assessed state rather than trait aggression in our studv. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.