Objective: to assess the mode of childbirth and adverse neonatal outcomes in women with a breech presentation with or without an external cephalic version attempt, and to compare the mode of childbirth among women with successful ECV to women with a spontaneous cephalic presentation. Design: prospective matched cohort study. Setting: 25 clusters (hospitals and its referring midwifery practices) in the Netherlands. Data of the Netherlands perinatal registry for the matched cohort. Participants: singleton pregnancies from January 2011 to August 2012 with a fetus in breech presentation and a childbirth from 36 weeks gestation onwards. Spontaneous cephalic presentations (selected from national registry 2009 and 2010) were matched in a 2:1 ratio to cephalic presentations after a successful version attempt. Matching criteria were maternal age, parity, gestational age at childbirth and fetal gender. Main outcomes were mode of childbirth and neonatal outcomes. Measurements and findings: of 1613 women eligible for external cephalic version, 1169 (72.5%) received an ECV attempt. The overall caesarean childbirth rate was significantly lower compared to women who did not receive a version attempt (57% versus 87%; RR 0.66 (0.62-0.70)). Women with a cephalic presentation after ECV compared to women with a spontaneous cephalic presentation had a decreased risk for instrumental vaginal childbirth (RR 0.52 (95% CI 0.29-0.94)) and an increased risk of overall caesarean childbirth (RR 1.7 (95%Cl 1.2-2.5)). Key conclusions: women who had a successful ECV are at increased risk for a caesarean childbirth but overall, ECV is an important tool to reduce the caesarean rate. Implication for practice: ECV is an important tool to reduce the caesarean section rates. (C) 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.