The first positive genome-wide association study on gestational length and preterm delivery showed the involvement of an Se metabolism gene. In the present study, we examine the association between maternal intake of Se and Se status with gestational length and preterm delivery in 72 025 women with singleton live births from the population-based, prospective Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). A self-reported, semi-quantitative FFQ answered in pregnancy week 22 was used to estimate Se intake during the first half of pregnancy. Associations were analysed with adjusted linear and Cox regressions. Se status was assessed in whole blood collected in gestational week 17 (n 2637). Median dietary Se intake was 53 (interquartile range (IQR) 44–62) µg/d, supplements provided additionally 50 (IQR 30–75) µg/d for supplement users (n 23 409). Maternal dietary Se intake was significantly associated with prolonged gestational length (β per sd = 0·25, 95 % CI, 0·07, 0·43) and decreased risk of preterm delivery (n 3618, hazard ratio per sd = 0·92, 95 % CI, 0·87, 0·98). Neither Se intake from supplements nor maternal blood Se status was associated with gestational length or preterm delivery. Hence, the present study showed that maternal dietary Se intake but not intake of Se-containing supplements, during the first half of pregnancy was significantly associated with decreased risk of preterm delivery. Further investigations, preferably in the form of a large randomised controlled trial, are needed to elucidate the impact of Se on pregnancy duration.