Propensity scores have been used widely as a bias reduction method to estimate the treatment effect in nonrandomized studies. Since many covariates are generally included in the model for estimating the propensity scores, the proportion of subjects with at least one missing covariate could be large. While many methods have been proposed for propensity score-based estimation in the presence of missing covariates, little has been published comparing the performance of these methods. In this article we propose a novel method called multiple imputation missingness pattern (MIMP) and compare it with the naive estimator (ignoring propensity score) and three commonly used methods of handling missing covariates in propensity score-based estimation (separate estimation of propensity scores within each pattern of missing data, multiple imputation and discarding missing data) under different mechanisms of missing data and degree of correlation among covariates. Simulation shows that all adjusted estimators are much less biased than the naive estimator. Under certain conditions MIMP provides benefits (smaller bias and mean-squared error) compared with existing alternatives. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.