Abruptio placentae is the most common cause of stillbirth in South Africa. (1) At Tygerberg Academic Hospital (TBH), a tertiary referral hospital in Cape Town, perinatal mortality data from July 2006 to June 2007 demonstrated that placental abruption was the direct cause of 25.5% of perinatal deaths where the birth weight was 1 000 g or more (unpublished data, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, TBH). Although abruptio placentae is associated with many risk factors, such as cigarette smoking, growth restriction, hypertension and pre-eclampsia, (2,3) a local study showed that 60% of 70 multigravidas who had had intrauterine deaths due to placental abruption had unremarkable previous obstetric histories. (4) A high prevalence of cigarette smoking (5) and consumption of alcohol during pregnancy (6) have been noted in the coloured population, in which abruptio placentae is the main cause of stillbirth. The question therefore arises whether there is an association between excessive exposure to alcohol before conception and during pregnancy and the development of placental abruption. Although epidemiological studies have reported increased rates of abruptio placentae in heavy drinkers during pregnancy, (7-10) this association has not been investigated prospectively.