In order to examine the effect of maternal active and passive smoking on fetal growth, we carried out a population-based cohort study. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 15,207 women who notified their pregnancy from April, 1989 to March, 1991. A total of 7,411 mother-singleton infant pairs were analyzed in this study. Paternal smoking status and maternal hours exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) were used as indicators of passive smoking. Infants born to active smoking mothers were 96 g lighter, on an average, at birth than those born to non-smokers, and the relative risk for intrauterine growth retardation was 1.79 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-3.04) among active smoking mothers. Infants with smoking fathers weighted 11 g lighter, on an average, than those with non-smoking fathers, and mean birth weight of infants was reduced by 19 g among mothers exposed to ETS. The relative risk for intrauterine growth retardation in non-smoking pregnants with a smoking husband and those exposed to ETS was 0.95 (95% CI = 0.72-1.26) and 0.95 (95% CI = 0.71-1.26), respectively. Our findings indicated an adverse effect of maternal active smoking on fetal growth in Japanese pregnant population, but with small influence of maternal passive smoking.