A growing body of literature has examined the effects of neighbourhood characteristics on child health and well-being and the mechanisms through which such effects may operate. Research investigating neighbourhood effects on children is based on the notion that individuals and families who live in a neighbourhood collectively create a social context that influences the developing child. In this paper we investigate the relationship between individual and neighbourhood socioeconomic characteristics and kindergarten children's readiness to learn in Vancouver, Canada ( n = 3736), using multilevel modeling techniques and 1996 census data for Vancouver neighbourhoods ( n = 68). Findings suggest that although family-level characteristics carry the most weight in shaping children's readiness to learn, neighbourhood-level factors are independently associated with early developmental outcomes, particularly physical health and well-being, language and cognitive development, and communications skills and general knowledge. The strongest neighbourhood characteristics associated with readiness to learn were median income and the percentage of single-parent families. Also important were the percentage of the population who had not moved in the previous five years and the percentage of the population whose mother tongue was non-English. The latter neighbourhood characteristic was an especially strong predictor of communication skills and general knowledge. The findings suggest that neighbourhood-based policies to improve physical health and well-being, language and cognitive development, and communications skills may also meet with some success.