Few studies have assessed psychopathic traits in community samples of young people. We investigated the predictive utility of callous and unemotional traits in a representative sample of 5770 young people from Great Britain. Teachers provided information on the presence of callous and unemotional traits and parents completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to determine the level and impact of psychiatric problems at baseline, 12 and 24 months later. Baseline callous and unemotional trait scores independently predicted the number and intensity of conduct, emotional and hyperactivity symptoms at follow-up. Callous and unemotional traits are longitudinally associated with the level and impact of childhood psychiatric problems.