Abruptio placentae during pregnancy can result in significant morbidity and mortality to both mother and infant. A comprehensive literature search of publications from 1966 to April 1995 identified 11 studies on the association between maternal cocaine use and abruptio placentae. Their results were combined in a meta-analysis. The pooled odds ratio for abruptio placentae and maternal cocaine use was 3.92 (95% confidence interval 2.77-5.46). The strength and consistency of the association, its biological plausibility and the results of experimental studies in animals all suggest that cocaine use during pregnancy causes abruptio placentae.