A controlled trial of fetal heart rate (FHR) monitoring in a low-risk obstetric population was carried out in 989 patients at the Mercy Maternity Hospital and Queen Victoria Medical Centre. The use of monitoring failed to demonstrate any improvement in perinatal outcome. Monitoring was associated with an increased intervention rate and a small increase in the number of babies who remained in the isolette beyond 3 days. This study does not support the view that FHR monitoring should be used in all labors. Further study in a larger sample is recommended.