This paper provides an overview of the origins, purpose, and methods of the Perinatal Periods of Risk (PPOR) approach to community-based planning for action to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. PPOR includes a new analytic framework that enables urban communities to better understand and address fetal and infant mortality. This article serves as the core reference for accompanying specific PPOR methods and practice articles. PPOR is based on core principles of full community engagement and equity and follows a six stage community-based planning process. In Stage 1, communities are mobilized and engaged, related planning efforts aligned, and community and analytic readiness assessed. In Stage 2, feto-infant mortality is mapped, excess mortality is estimated, likely causes of feto-infant mortality are determined, and appropriate actions are suggested. Stage 3 produces action plans for targeted prevention strategies. Stages 4 and 5 include implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Stage 6 fosters political will to sustain efforts. PPOR can be used in local maternal child health (MCH) practice for improving perinatal outcomes. MCH programs can use PPOR to integrate health assessments, initiate planning, identify significant gaps, target more in-depth inquiry, and suggest clear interventions for lowering feto-infant mortality. PPOR enables greater cooperation in improving MCH through more effective data use, strengthened data capacity, and greater shared understanding of complex infant mortality issues. PPOR offers local health departments and their community partners a comprehensive approach to address the health of women and infants in their jurisdictions.