We conducted a prospective observational study among a cohort of 40 term parturients undergoing spinal anaesthesia for elective Caesarean section, to determine the concentration of beta-trace protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum. Serum and CSF samples, taken at the time of dural puncture, were assayed by nephelometry. The mean serum beta-trace protein concentration was 0.39 mg.l(-1) and the mean CSF concentration was 27.9 mg.l(-1), giving a mean ratio of CSF to serum concentration of 76. This ratio is higher than that published for non-pregnant females and for males because of both a higher mean CSF and a lower mean serum beta-trace protein concentration. The concentration correlated positively with both serum creatinine and gestational age. If these concentrations are used to estimate the normal range, we propose that the nephelometric measurement of beta-trace protein might prove a useful diagnostic test for cerebrospinal fluid-cutaneous fistula in parturients.