To determine the relationship between maternal anemia [hemoglobin (Hgb) < 10-11 g/dL] and various birth outcomes, a meta-analysis was conducted based on published literature identified by MEDLINE and manual search from 1966 through 1999. Odds ratios (OR) from selected studies were pooled according to the gestational age at anemia diagnosis. The meta-analysis shows that maternal anemia during early pregnancy was associated with slightly increased preterm birth [pooled adjusted OR (aOR): 1.32, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01-1.74], and nonstatistically significant increased low birth weight [pooled aOR: 1.39 (0.70-2.74)], and was not associated with fetal growth restriction [pooled aOR: 1.01 (0.73-1.38)]. However, there was a nonstatistically significant inverse relationship between anemia during late pregnancy and preterm birth [pooled aOR: 0.92 (0.54-1.84)] and low birth weight [pooled aOR: 0.80 (0.64-1.00)]. Anemia was not statistically significantly associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy regardless of stage of pregnancy [pooled OR: 0.80 (0.53-1.20)]. The relationship between anemia and perinatal mortality was inconclusive. A few studies indicated that severe maternal anemia (Hgb < 8-8.5 g/dL) was associated with increased risk of poor outcomes. We conclude that early pregnancy anemia is associated with slightly increased risk of preterm birth. The trend toward an inverse association of anemia determined during late pregnancy with preterm birth and low birth weight may reflect the benefit of plasma volume expansion.