The influence of ovarian stimulation in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) on the prevalence of back pain with onset during pregnancy was studied in 31 women who became pregnant after IVF treatment and compared with that of 200 spontaneously pregnant women. A two times higher prevalence rate of sacral pain in late pregnancy was reported among IVF pregnant women (P < 0.0001), as well as a significantly higher prevalence rate of positive results of pelvic pain provocation tests performed in late pregnancy (0.0001 < or = P < or = 0.015), as compared with that of the spontaneously pregnant women. Among the IVF pregnant women, there was a significant positive correlation between relaxin concentrations in early pregnancy and the outcome of pelvic pain provocation tests (0.44 < or = r < or = 0.51, P < 0.05). In addition, the serum relaxin concentration was the factor that best explained differences in sacral pain prevalence. When the influence of serum relaxin concentration on back pain prevalence was taken into account, women carrying multiple pregnancies had no more pain than women carrying singletons, and IVF pregnant women had no more pain than spontaneously pregnant women. These results support the hypothesis that relaxin is involved in the generation of pelvic pain in pregnant women.