This study was conducted to assess the results from the use of a maternity waiting home, a health facility to which women with high risk pregnancies are referred during the last weeks of pregnancy in rural Zambia. It compared the risk status and pregnancy outcome in women staying as waiters with those women who give birth in hospital after direct admission (non-waiters). Forty seven per-cent of the non-waiters (n = 292) had no maternal risk factors and 85% had no antenatal risk factors as compared to 17% and 78% among the waiters (n = 218). Eighty six per cent of waiters had spontaneous vaginal vertex delivery as compared to 95% of non-waiters. Although the differences in risk status were statistically significant, no differences were found in birth weight and maternal and perinatal mortality. The similar obstetric outcome among waiters with more high risk pregnancies and non-waiters could be interpreted as a possible outcome of the maternity waiting home. When dependent on a proper functioning referral system, such waiting homes can reduce perinatal mortality.