The Wisconsin Stillbirth Service Program has provided a mechanism for the collection and analysis of unbiased and representative information concerning stillborn infants. Generated diagnoses and diagnostic categories within the first 1,000 referrals (including 789 stillbirths) is summarized here. Among all referred stillborns, 24.5% were found to have an identifiable intrinsic fetal cause of death. Specific diagnoses were extraordinarily heterogeneous, with about 85 different processes identified with this group. No single diagnosis was found in more than 1 1/2% of the evaluated stillborns. Distribution by classes of fetal causes (as a percent of all fetal causes in stillborns) included malformation syndromes in 44%, single malformations and defined sequences in 34%, disruptions in 10%, and dysplasias in 3%. The heterogeneity of syndromic causes is illustrated, examples of previously undescribed syndromic processes provided and the problems experienced in generating specific diagnoses discussed. Specific single malformations, sequences, disruptions, and dysplasias are also tabulated and illustrated. Distribution by etiologic categories (as a percent of all fetal causes in stillborns) included defined sporadic conditions in 29%, cytogenetic aberration in 25%, presumed multifactorial processes in 12%, Mendelian disorders in 5%, and environmental events in less than 4%. A fourth of all fetal causes could not be sufficiently defined to allow for certainty in assigning a specific etiologic category. The materials summarized provide reference data regarding the frequency of classes and categories of fetal diagnoses generated from an unbiased and non-selected series of stillborns. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.