We have analysed trends in male:female ratios among newborns between 1950 and 1990 in 29 countries from five continents. The numbers of liveborn males and females over the period 1950-1994 were derived from the World Health Organization (WHO) database. Countries for which reliable data were available included 20 major European countries (excluding the former Soviet Union, Albania and a few small countries), Canada, the USA, selected countries of Central and South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. From the original numbers of males and females, we computed the proportion of males among liveborns for each country and for selected broader areas within Europe. In most countries the proportion of male liveborns was constant during the study period. In particular, the proportion of male newborns in the European Union was 0.515 in 1950-1954, 0.514 in 1970-1974 and 0.514 in 1990-1994. In the USA, corresponding values were 0.513, 0.513 and 0.512. In Japan the ratios were 0.513 in 1950-1954, 0.516 and 1970-1974 and 0.514 in 1990-1994. Decreasing ratios were observed in some northern and eastern European countries plus Greece and Portugal and, particularly, in Mexico. In contrast, the proportion of male liveborns tended to increase in southern Europe and Australia. Overall, among the 29 countries considered, the proportion of males declined in 16, increased in six, and remained stable in seven.