Preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction are both characterized by placental malfunction. The pathological processes of abnormal trophoblast invasion, partial absence of maternal spiral artery modification, increased apoptosis of trophoblast cells, and placental ischemia are all associated with the release of specific molecules. These proteins, as well as cell-free fetal DNA and RNA might be detected in the maternal peripheral circulation, quantified, and used for early identification and prediction of preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, prior to the appearance of the clinical symptoms. As preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction are associated with increased maternal, perinatal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality, early identification of these pregnancy associated complications will permit the design of appropriate preventive measures. In this review a variety of factors reported to be useful as potential markers for early detection of pregnancies at increased risk will be discussed. Molecules associated with the establishment of the placenta and essential in fetal-maternal interactions, like interleukin 2-receptor, insulinlike growth factor-1, and insulinlike growth factor binding protein-1, placenta growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, inhibin A, activin A, and human chorionic gonadotrophin seem to be the most likely candidates for presymptomatic markers for preeclampsia and/or intrauterine growth restriction. Detection and discrimination of these molecules through the placental RNA in maternal plasma based strategy has become a realistic option.