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ABSTRACT: As part of a controlled, clinical trial conducted to compare medical and psychological outcomes of a birth room and a conventional hospital setting, we examined the behavior of fathers toward their partners and infants. One hundred fourteen couples were systematically assigned to either locale by strict alternation. They learned about this allocation on arrival at the hospital in labor. Observations of fathers' behavior were made at midlabor and during home visits at three months and one year. During labor, fathers assigned to the conventional setting were more involved in helping and encouraging their partners. Parenting behavior was not influenced by the birth setting. Unexpectedly, fathers were more involved with their infants when the mothers had expressed less satisfaction with childbirth. Compensation behavior may explain these results, which can be seen as appropriately adaptive in the face of perceived environmental deficiencies affecting the laboring woman and the infant.