Personal costs associated with attending prenatal care may influence women's care-seeking behavior, particularly poor, pregnant women and those with complicated pregnancies who receive more visits. This study described personal costs incurred by poor, high-risk pregnant women while attending care. Personal costs included direct out-of-pocket and time costs. Also, the relationship between personal costs and attendance was examined. Mean direct costs throughout pregnancy were $101.96 per patient. Women waited a mean of 3.22 hours per visit for care and received direct physician care for a mean of 5 minutes. As child care costs increased, attendance decreased significantly (r = 0.60, p < or = 0.05). As transportation costs, meal costs, wages lost, and time spent awaiting care increased, attendance decreased. Prenatal care has associated dollar and time costs for patients. Problem solving these issues with patients is critical. System changes to decrease waiting times and to address child care issues are needed.