Fetal breathing, fetal body movements, fetal heart rate, and fetal heart rate accelerations and decelerations were studied longitudinally in healthy fetuses between 24 and 32 weeks' gestation in the second and third hour following an 800 kcal maternal meal. The expected increase in fetal breathing following a maternal meal was not seen until fetuses were at 30 to 32 weeks' gestation. The number of body movements decreased and the interaction between body movements and fetal heart rate accelerations became more evident as fetuses became older. Fetal heart rate decelerations increased with gestational age, and the relative proportion of total decelerations that were either associated with body movements or were part of a deceleration/acceleration/deceleration complex increased from 24 to 32 weeks' gestation. The data support the hypothesis that gestational age is an important variable to consider when interpreting biophysical measurements in the human fetus at 24 to 32 weeks' gestation. Fetal body movements may be the single most important measurement of fetal health at these gestational ages.