Fetal growth is dependent on transplacental supply of fuels. We aimed to assess the effect of serial changes in maternal glucose tolerance and insulin secretion with advancing pregnancy on maternal-fetal outcomes. Sixty-nine healthy pregnant women were studied over the course of gestation for glucose tolerance, by oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)), fetal intrauterine growth (by ultrasound) and pregnancy outcome. Seven women had an abnormal OGTT in the third trimester developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but none of the 12 mothers of large babies (> 3.9 kg) had GDM: the former had the highest post-load glycemic increment, despite an apparently 'normal' insulin secretory response, the latter showed the lowest post-load glucose increase in the face of the lowest insulinemic response. Neonatal body weight correlated with maternal gestational weight gain, placental weight, third trimester ratio of incremental plasma insulin and glucose integrated areas under the curve and first and second trimester HbA(1c) levels. Fetal growth indices (femur length, biparietal diameter and abdominal circumference) were correlated with both HbA(1c) and 2h OGTT. Fetal growth rate is confirmed as being associated with maternal glycemic equilibrium, but one of the main determinants of high infant birthweight seems to be an enhanced maternal insulin sensitivity, accompanied by remarkable gestational weight gain.