The role that maternal and fetal human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes play in pregnancy is unknown, but it has been suggested that fetuses whose HLA alleles do not differ from maternal alleles (i.e. histocompatible fetuses) are more likely to be aborted than fetuses with HLA alleles that differ from maternal alleles (i.e. histoincompatible fetuses). To elucidate the role of HLA compatibility in pregnancy, we tested the hypothesis that couples who match for HLA alleles or haplotypes would have reduced fertility because only these couples could produce histocompatible fetuses. We conducted a 10 year prospective study of HLA matching and pregnancy outcome in 111 Hutterite couples, providing information on 251 pregnancies. A logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the effects of HLA matching at HLA regions and loci on pregnancy outcome (fetal loss versus delivery). Significantly increased fetal loss rates were observed among couples matching for the entire 16-locus haplotype (P = 0.002). Among the individual loci, loss rates were increased among couples matching for HLA-B (P = 0.019), HLA-C (P = 0.033) and the complement component, C4 (P = 0.043). We interpret these results as evidence that matching for the entire 16-locus haplotype and/or alleles at an HLA-B-linked locus confers significant risk for fetal loss.