The relationship between glycemic control and perinatal outcome was assessed in a relatively uniform population of 75 White Class B through D pregnant diabetic women. All patients used glucose reflectance meter self-monitoring and performed a minimum of four determinations daily. Mean capillary blood glucose was calculated from a minimum of 16 weeks of determinations. Regression analysis confirmed a correlation between these values and third-trimester hemoglobin A1 (p less than 0.001). The study population was divided into two groups on the basis of mean capillary blood glucose values: group I, mean capillary blood glucose less than 110 mg/dl (43 patients) (mean = 96.8 +/- 7.1); group II, mean capillary blood glucose greater than 110 mg/dl (32 patients) (mean = 126 +/- 9.0). Of the 32 patients in group II, eight had mean capillary blood glucose greater than or equal to 130 mg/dl. The degree of maternal glycemic control appeared to affect perinatal outcome. At least one form of infant morbidity was present in 33% of group I infants compared with 53% of group II. Significant differences were observed for the incidence of hypoglycemia (p less than 0.05), macrosomia (p less than 0.05), and respiratory distress syndrome (p less than 0.01). One of six group I infants delivered at 35 to 36 weeks developed respiratory distress syndrome, compared with four of seven group II patients. The appearance of phosphatidylglycerol in amniotic fluid appeared delayed in group II patients at term. These data suggest that maintaining mean capillary blood glucose values less than 110 mg/dl may serve to reduce several major forms of morbidity in the infant of the diabetic mother. This information is helpful in establishing objectives for glycemic control in pregnant women using self-monitoring techniques.