Normal fetal growth depends on the genetically predetermined growth potential and its modulation by the health of the fetus, placenta and the mother. Fetuses that are small because of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are at higher risk for poor perinatal and long-term outcome than those who are appropriately grown. Of the many potential underlying processes that may result in IUGR, placental disease is clinically the most relevant. Fetal cardiovascular and behavioral responses to placental insufficiency and the metabolic status are interrelated. The concurrent evaluation of fetal biometry, amniotic fluid volume, heart rate patterns, arterial and venous Doppler, and biophysical variables therefore allow the most comprehensive fetal evaluation in IUGR. In the absence of successful intrauterine therapy, the timing of delivery is perhaps the most critical aspect of the antenatal management. A discussion of the fetal responses to placental insufficiency and a management protocol that accounts for multiple Doppler and biophysical parameters as well as gestational age is provided in this review.