Few studies have suggested that long-term adherence to low-carbohydrate diets (LCD) may affect maternal glucose metabolism in Western countries. We aimed to investigate the association between LCD during pregnancy and glucose metabolism in a Chinese population. A total of 1018 women in mid-pregnancy were recruited in 2017–2018. Participants underwent a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Daily dietary intakes over the past month were accessed using a validated FFQ. The overall, animal and vegetable LCD scores which represent adherence to different low-carbohydrate dietary patterns were calculated. Mixed linear regression and generalised linear mixed regression were conducted to evaluate the associations between LCD scores and maternal glucose metabolism. Of the 1018 subjects, 194 (19·1 %) were diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The overall LCD score (β: 0·024, se 0·008, PFDR = 0·02) and animal LCD score (β: 0·023, se 0·008, PFDR = 0·02) were positively associated with OGTT 1-h glucose. No significant associations were found between the three different LCD scores with fasting plasma glucose, OGTT 2-h glucose, or insulin resistance, respectively. Compared with the lowest quartile, the crude OR of GDM for the highest quartile were 1·84 (95 % CI 1·14, 2·95) for overall LCD score (Pfor trend = 0·02) and 1·56 (95 % CI 1·00, 2·45) for animal LCD score (Pfor trend = 0·02). However, these associations became non-significant after adjustment for covariates. In conclusion, a low-carbohydrate dietary pattern with high animal protein and fat is associated with higher postprandial 1-h glucose levels in Chinese pregnant women.