Until about 15 years ago, the general advice to women with autoimmune rheumatic diseases, especially systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis and vasculitic syndromes, was to avoid pregnancy as there was a high risk of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. However, it is now clear that these risks can be reduced in general by avoiding pregnancy when the diseases are active and continuing appropriate medication to reduce the chances of disease flare during pregnancy. This article will review the evidence for this advice and will also consider other issues that should be discussed with women before they attempt to become pregnant. This will include the influence of pregnancy on the individual autoimmune diseases, as well as the potential impact of the diseases and drug therapy on fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome has emerged as a major cause of fetal loss, pre-eclampsia and premature birth. The clinical and laboratory diagnosis of this condition will not be covered, but the reader is referred to an excellent recent review. Much of the data on pregnancy and autoimmune rheumatic diseases come from retrospective analyses, but some prospective studies have been reported over the past 10 years. There have been very few meta-analyses or randomized clinical trials.