The purpose of the study was to acquire knowledge of the opportunities that expectant mothers had to participate in decision making regarding their care in maternity clinics during their last pregnancy. The study is a part of a larger national survey 'Family planning services in Finland' carried out by the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. The rationale for the study were the known benefits of participation in one's care and its emphasis in health policy documents. The subjects were a random sample of women aged between 18 and 44. The response rate was 73% (n = 1289). The data were gathered by a mailed questionnaire and analysed statistically. According to the results mothers had fairly good opportunities to participate in decision making. However, there were statistically significant differences in opportunities between the women. The mothers who were most satisfied were aged 25-29 years, lived in a permanent relationship, had 12 years of basic education and had three children. Opportunities to participate in care have improved from the 1970s to the 1990s. The results have many implications for the development of nursing practice in maternity clinics and the deepening of the knowledge base in nursing education. The study, being the first national survey on this topic, also gives suggestions for further studies.