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In an experimental study, chemically sympathectomised near term fetal sheep and a control group were subjected to repeated episodes of acute hypoxia. Despite severe hypotension and metabolic acidosis, no animal in the control group had meconium-stained amniotic fluid, whereas every animal in the sympathectomised group had heavily meconium-stained amniotic fluid at the end of the experiments. These data and the available literature do not support a direct association between acute hypoxia and meconium-stained amniotic fluid but suggest that a reduction in sympathetic neural tone must be a component of meconium passage. Clinical and experimental data on the occurrence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid are reviewed.