We used data from a population-based case-control study to explore the relation between certain life events during the periconceptional period and several types of congenital anomalies. We ascertained cases from pregnancies ending in 1987-1989 and randomly selected controls from eligible liveborn infants. In telephone interviews, women reported deaths of anyone close to them. They also reported job losses or separations/divorces, for themselves or anyone close to them. Experiencing at least one stressful event during the periconceptional period was associated with a prevalence odds ratio of 1.4-1.5 for the delivery of infants with conotruncal heart defects, neural tube defects, and isolated cleft lip with or without palate. These associations tended to be restricted to women who were not obese and women with less than or equal to a high school education. This study suggests that women who experience stressful life events around the time of conception or early gestation may be at increased risk of delivering infants with certain congenital anomalies.