The influence of ethnicity on obstetric performance in Singapore was assessed by retrospective analysis of all deliveries in the National University Hospital over a 7-year period. Malay mothers were younger, shorter, less educated, of higher parity, were more likely to have had no antenatal care, and had the highest incidence of premature labour. However, mothers of Indian origin had the smallest babies, the highest incidence of low birth weight and significantly higher perinatal mortality rates. Chinese mothers fared better than their Malay and Indian counterparts in all parameters assessed. The ethnic origin of the mother has an important bearing on perinatal performance. This emphasises the importance of designing appropriate strategies to improve perinatal health in the different ethnic groups.