|This has spoilers|
| Born to Trisha Elric and Van Hohenheim of Light in Resembool in the winter of 1899, Edward's first few years were relatively happy, but after the sudden departure of his father during the lad's formative years, Ed was left with his mother and younger brother Alphonse as his only family. The three Elrics lived in peace in the rural village and the boys began displaying a remarkable talent for Alchemy at a young age, much to the joyful astonishment of his mother. However, early in the year 1905, Trisha contracted an illness that had been spreading in the area and died, leaving her two sons orphaned. Even while mourning, Edward vowed to his brother that the two of them would find a way to bring their dear mother back to life with the power of alchemy. Edward and Alphonse spent the next few years living on their own in the Elric family home, supported by their close childhood friend Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako and pursuing the alchemical knowledge necessary for their planned resurrection. Although they had gained a great deal of information and comprehension regarding the extended basics of the craft, before long, it became apparent to the young prodigies that there was only so far they could go while being self-taught. In a stroke of good fortune, Resembool was visited by an exceptionally skilled alchemist named Izumi Curtis who, after some persuasion, agreed to take the Elric brothers on as her apprentices provided they pass a preliminary test. She brought the boys to Yock Island near the town of Dublith in the southern region, where she informed them that they were to survive for one full month without alchemy. If, at the end of their ordeal, they could correctly explain the concept "One is All and All is One", they would begin their training under her wing. While there, the brothers discovered self-reliance and gained new abilities and insights relevant to living in the world under their own power from having to forage and hunt for food as well as fend off periodic attacks from Mason, an employee at the Curtises’ butcher shop who had disguised himself as a masked wild man at Izumi's behest. Coming to realize that, as a human, he is but a small part of the world and universe as a whole, but that the world and universe cannot exist without a collective of small parts, it is Edward who answered Izumi's riddle properly when she finally returned. For the next five months, the Elric brothers were subjected to Izumi's intensive alchemy and martial arts training, growing significantly in both mind and body and gaining a great deal of alchemical knowledge before returning to Resembool. Though instructed specifically by Izumi to understand that death is an irreversible part of the flow of the world and that acceptance of such is important to the "One is All, All is One" concept, the boys dove headlong into their plan to resurrect their mother upon their homecoming, having advanced their knowledge while abroad and discovered the basics to a forbidden practice called Human Transmutation. Devising a Transmutation Circle, amassing the elemental ingredients for an adult human body and offering their own blood as soul and biological data, the boys secretly initiated the Human Transmutation in their home. Unfortunately, the Human Transmutation resulted in a Rebound; Edward and Alphonse were pulled into The Gate. Encountering a mysterious being called Truth, Edward was stripped of his left leg in exchange for crossing into God's domain and peeking at the Gate's vast wealth of alchemical knowledge. Maimed and bleeding, Edward was returned to the human dimension to find that Alphonse had not yet returned from his disappearance into the Gate, that the mother they had attempted to revive was a grotesque mass of organs only capable of sustaining life for a few moments and that his own sojourn into the Gate had granted him the curious ability to perform transmutations merely by clapping his hands together, without the aid of a Transmutation Circle, in the same style used by Izumi. Desperate to at least have his brother by his side, Edward willfully performed another Human Transmutation to call him back, this time, sacrificing his right arm in exchange for Al's soul, which he bound alchemically to an antique suit of armor with a Blood Rune before passing out from severe blood loss. Al carried Ed to the Rockbell house, where a shocked Pinako and Winry performed emergency surgery to save the young boy's life.
After the failed attempt a man that introduced himself as Roy Mustang visits them and tells them about the State Alchemist program. Edward and Alphonse, previously taught by Izusumi Curtis where familiar with this term and at the beginning appeared reluctant to join. However after Mustang tells them they will have access to certain research Edward immediately agrees and decides to take the exam