We sought to determine whether pre-eclampsia, spontaneous preterm birth or the delivery of infants who are small for gestational age were associated with the presence of bacterial DNA in the human placenta. Here we show that there was no evidence for the presence of bacteria in the large majority of placental samples, from both complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies. Almost all signals were related either to the acquisition of bacteria during labour and delivery, or to contamination of laboratory reagents with bacterial DNA. The exception was Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus), for which non-contaminant signals were detected in approximately 5% of samples collected before the onset of labour. We conclude that bacterial infection of the placenta is not a common cause of adverse pregnancy outcome and that the human placenta does not have a microbiome, but it does represent a potential site of perinatal acquisition of S. agalactiae, a major cause of neonatal sepsis.