Interest in the clinical associations between maternal intrapartum fever and adverse neonatal outcome has been longstanding, with publications of a relationship between maternal fever and cerebral palsy dating from the 1950s. Further recognition of the associations between either clinically or histologically characterised chorioamnionitis, ascending infection and neonatal wellbeing followed, with numerous reports in the 1960s and 70s, particularly as the neonatal significance of group B streptococcal infections became apparent. Similarly, with the systematic introduction of diagnostic light microscopy into clinical medicine, chorioamnionitis (inflammation of the placental membranes) and funisitis (inflammation of the umbilical cord) were recognised as distinct histological entities, with increasing recognition that the aetiology was likely to be infective. There are numerous texts discussing in detail the pathogenesis and histological features of chorioamnionitis and funisitis. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the salient associated issues for clinical practitioners and to highlight areas of ongoing uncertainty and recent developments in understanding.