OBJECTIVE To compare the efficacy of midwife-managed care and obstetrician-managed care for women assessed to be at low risk in the initial intrapartum period. METHODS 1,050 women assessed to be at low risk on admission to labour ward in the Prince of Wales Hospital participated in this study. By computer-generated random allocation, 563 (54%) women were assigned to Group A (experimental) under midwifery care, and 487 (46%) women to Group B (control) under obstetrician care. The outcomes and complications between the 2 groups were compared. Data were analyzed by 2 x 2 contingency tables and Chi-square. RESULTS 150 (26.6%) women in the experimental group were taken over by the obstetricians. 46 (30.7%) women were transferred to obstetrician-management for the preference of epidural analgesia. The other reasons for taken over the remaining 104 (69.3%) women were fetal distress, poor progress of labour, complications in first or second stage of labour. The experimental group had less oxytocic augmentation (Chi-square = 7.49, p = 0.006) and the insertion of intravenous infusion (Chi-square = 5.34, p = 0.02). Both groups had similar outcomes on normal delivery, operative vaginal delivery, caesarean section and complications. CONCLUSIONS Midwife-managed care is as safe as obstetrician-managed care for women who were assessed to be at low risk in the intrapartum period. Routine visit by obstetrician is not necessary and the midwives are able to detect complications in the course of labour and alert the obstetrician for taking the necessary action.