Background: Efforts to prevent the development of overweight and obesity have increasingly focused early in the life course as we recognise that both metabolic and behavioural patterns are often established within the first few years of life. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions are even more powerful when, with forethought, they are synthesised into an individual patient data (IPD) prospective meta-analysis (PMA). An IPD PMA is a unique research design where several trials are identified for inclusion in an analysis before any of the individual trial results become known and the data are provided for each randomised patient. This methodology minimises the publication and selection bias often associated with a retrospective meta-analysis by allowing hypotheses, analysis methods and selection criteria to be specified a priori. Methods/Design. The Early Prevention of Obesity in CHildren (EPOCH) Collaboration was formed in 2009. The main objective of the EPOCH Collaboration is to determine if early intervention for childhood obesity impacts on body mass index (BMI) z scores at age 18-24 months. Additional research questions will focus on whether early intervention has an impact on children's dietary quality, TV viewing time, duration of breastfeeding and parenting styles. This protocol includes the hypotheses, inclusion criteria and outcome measures to be used in the IPD PMA. The sample size of the combined dataset at final outcome assessment (approximately 1800 infants) will allow greater precision when exploring differences in the effect of early intervention with respect to pre-specified participant- and intervention-level characteristics. Discussion. Finalisation of the data collection procedures and analysis plans will be complete by the end of 2010. Data collection and analysis will occur during 2011-2012 and results should be available by 2013.