© 2014 Butte et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: Moderate-vigorous physical activity (%MVPA) confers beneficial effects on child musculoskeletal health, cardiovascular fitness, and psychosocial well-being; in contrast, sedentary time (%SED) is emerging as a risk factor for health. This study aimed to identify parental, child and neighborhood factors influencing longitudinal assessments of body mass index (BMI) and activity patterns among Latino children, and to estimate lagged and cross-lagged effects between child BMI, %MVPA and %SED.Methods: A longitudinal design with assessments at baseline, 1 and 2 years follow-up (FU) was used to evaluate the effects of maternal and paternal factors (BMI, age, education level, acculturation, household income and household size), child factors (gender, age, BMI, pubertal status) and neighborhood factors (disorder, victimization) on child BMI, %MVPA and %SED, expressed as a percent of awake time, in 282 Latino children ages 8-10 y and their parents. This study was restricted to families with a mother and biological father or father figure in the child's life.Results: Across time, total daily accelerometer counts (p = 0.04) and steps decreased (p = 0.0001), %SED increased (p = 0.0001), and %MVPA decreased (p = 0.02). Moderate lagged effects or tracking was seen for %MVPA and %SED (p = 0.001). %MVPA varied by gender (5.5% higher in boys than girls, p = 0.0001); child age (-0.4% per year, p = 0.03), and child BMI in boys only (-0.22%, p = 0.0002). Negative effects of paternal age, maternal education and maternal changes in BMI on %MVPA also were seen. %SED increased with child age (2.5% higher per year, p = 0.0001). Positive effects of paternal acculturation, maternal change in BMI, paternal age, and negative effects of household size on %SED were observed. A cross-lagged positive effect of BMI at FU1 on %SED at FU2 was observed for boys and girls (p = 0.03). Neighborhood disorder and victimization were not significant predictors of child BMI, %MVPA or %SED.Conclusion: The major child determinants of physical activity (age, gender and BMI) and minor parental influences (maternal BMI and education, paternal age and acculturation) should be considered in designing interventions to promote %MVPA and reduce %SED among Latino children as they approach adolescence.