Humidified oxygen (55%) was administered continuously through a face mask to 5 patients whose pregnancies (4 singleton and 1 twin) were all complicated by severe intrauterine growth retardation, oligohydramnios, high blood-flow impedance in the fetal aorta and umbilical artery, and low mean blood-velocity in the fetal thoracic aorta. All the fetuses were hypoxic and 2 were acidotic. After maternal hyperoxygenation, the fetal pO2 increased to within or near the normal range, and resulted in a sustained increase in the mean blood-velocity in the fetal thoracic aorta. 5 fetuses survived with minimum neonatal morbidity. The effect of maternal hyperoxygenation on the fetal pO2 in such cases may prove to be a useful method of assessing placental function and guiding management. © 1987.