The intention of the “Bologna score” is to quantify, both in an individual labor and in a wider population, the extent to which labors have been managed as if they are normal as opposed to complicated. In this way it may be possible to assess both attitudes and practices within a maternity service toward the effective care of normal labor. A scoring system for normal labor was proposed at the World Health Organization (Regional Office for Europe) Task Force Meeting on Monitoring and Evaluation of Perinatal Care, held in Bologna in January 2000. This paper describes conceptual development of the scale. Recommendations for future evaluation of the Bologna score's validity and potential include field testing globally, comparison with the Apgar score, and evaluation of the relative weight contributed by each of the five measures comprising the Bologna score.