Pregnancy after the onset of scleroderma is uncommon; therefore, placental findings and perinatal outcome have rarely been correlated. The histopathologic features of placentas from 13 pregnancies in eight women with scleroderma were recorded and correlated with the clinical features of the mother and fetus. Adverse perinatal outcome included intrauterine fetal demise in five, and previable or preterm delivery in four. A decidual vasculopathy was seen in 5 of the 13 placentas, four of which were associated with intrauterine fetal demise. Decidual blood vessels in the scleroderma patients were evaluated immunohistochemically for platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1), T-helper and T-suppressor lymphocytes, macrophages, immunoglobulin (Ig) M, and IgG, and compared with those from hypertensive and uncomplicated third-trimester pregnancies. The atherotic blood vessels in scleroderma were characterized by mural macrophages and IgM and IgG deposition and were similar to those seen in placentas from hypertensive pregnancies. CD8-positive T cells predominated in normal and hypertensive decidua compared with scleroderma, in which CD4-positive T cells were more frequent. No difference in PDGF or TGF-beta1 staining was found between scleroderma and control groups. In conclusion, decidual vasculopathy is common in scleroderma, is similar to that seen in hypertension, and is associated with poor perinatal outcome. A trend toward a reversed ratio of decidual CD4 to CD8-positive T cells is seen in scleroderma compared with hypertension and uncomplicated pregnancies. PDGF and TGF-beta1 do not appear to be involved in the pathogenesis of decidual vasculopathy in scleroderma.