Corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) was measured directly in maternal plasma using an immunoradiometric assay (IRMA). In the first and second trimester CRF levels were within the non-pregnant range (mean 15 pg/ml). A total of 72 women was followed sequentially from 28 weeks until delivery and CRF levels rose from a median of 20 pg/ml at 28 weeks to 1320 pg/ml at 40 weeks and 1732 pg/ml during labour. There was a strong correlation (rs = 0.81, P less than 0.001) between gestational age and CRF levels. The rate of rise of CRF (pg/ml) per week was associated with weight gain (rs = 0.36, P less than 0.05) but with no other obstetric variable. There was an association between umbilical cord and maternal plasma CRF levels (rs = 0.54, P less than 0.01).