1. Studies were made on liver stores of retinol in aborted human fetuses and stillborn babies in relation to gestational age, fetal size and maternal retinol status. The mothers belonged to low-and high-income groups (LIG and HIG respectively) in urban Baroda.
2. Fetal weights were less than those reported by Widdowson (1968) for similar gestational ages and the deficits were greater in LIG.
3. The combined mean values (μg/l) for maternal serum retinol for all gestational ages were 193 for LIG and 261 for HIG. They were found to decline in late pregnancy in the former but not significantly in the latter.
4. Fetal liver retinol concentrations were much lower than those reported for healthy Thai subjects by Montreewasuwat & Olson (1979) in early pregnancy but showed complete ‘catch up’ in late pregnancy for HIG and to a considerable extent for LIG.
5. Significant correlations were found between maternal serum retinol, fetal liver retinol and fetal growth.
6. These findings stress the importance of adequate vitamin A supplies during pregnancy to prevent vitamin A deficiency and intra-uterine growth retardation in the newborn.