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Progress in Reproductive Health Research. 2001; (56):1.Due to the poor implementation of antenatal care programs, women in developing countries are more than 400 times as likely to die from complications during pregnancy as women in southern Europe. To make matters worse, many components of these programs have not been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation to determine their effectiveness. This lack of "hard" evidence has impeded the optimal allocation of scarce resources in developing countries. Thus, this issue of a bulletin called Progress in Reproductive Health Research provides a comprehensive review of antenatal care research in developing countries conducted by the Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, a global program of technical cooperation among several UN agencies, WHO and the World Bank. This introductory article explains that the first article in the bulletin is based on a systematic review of what is known about antenatal care and shows why this area has been difficult to study. Then, the major causes of maternal mortality and morbidity are described in the proceeding article. Finally, the next two articles describe the randomized controlled trial for the evaluation of the existing WHO antenatal model and discuss the findings.