We analysed the effect of exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy on fetal growth parameters in 129 term newborns. Children were classified into four depending on exposure on the basis of a questionnaire completed by the mother. The results confirmed that tobacco smoking reduced weight, length, cranial and thoracic perimeters at birth when exposure was due to either active or passive smoking. Weight deficits of infants whose mothers smoked heavily (458 g) were higher than those whose mothers were exposed to passive smoking (192 g). We conclude that passive smoking is a very important variable and should be taken into account in any study of neonatal growth parameters.