A linear array pulsed Doppler duplex scanner was used to establish reference ranges for mean blood velocities and flow impedance (Pulsatility Index = PI) in the descending thoracic aorta and in the common carotid artery from 70 fetuses in normal pregnancies at 17-42 weeks' gestation. The aortic velocity increased with gestation up to 32 weeks, then remained constant until term, when it decreased. In contrast, the velocity in the common carotid artery increased throughout pregnancy. The PI in the aorta remained constant throughout pregnancy, while in the common carotid artery it fell steeply after 32 weeks. These results suggest that with advancing gestation there is a redistribution of the fetal circulation with decreased impedance to flow to the fetal brain, presumably to compensate for the progressive decrease in fetal blood Po2. © 1988.