The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of clinical severity and placental weight upon fetal lactacidemia in intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) pregnancies. Seventy pregnancies complicated by IUGR were compared with 70 normal (appropriate for gestational age, AGA) pregnancies at the time of elective cesarean section. IUGR pregnancies were divided according to clinical severity in three groups: Group 1 had normal fetal heart rate (FHR) and normal pulsatility index of the umbilical artery (PI); Group 2 had normal FHR and abnormal PI; and Group 3 had abnormal FHR and PI. No cases with severe lactacidemia had placental weights ≥250 g. Forty-four fetuses had placental weight <250 g: Twenty-four had severe lactacidemia and all were Group 2 and 3, whereas 20 had normal umbilical artery lac (lactate) (and small placentas) regardless of the clinical severity. Gestational age, fetal and placental weights, F/P ratios, uv (umbilical vein) and ua lac and ua oxygen content and pH were significantly decreased in fetuses with small placentas and high lactate. There was a significant relationship between fetal and placental weight in AGA and IUGR. However, IUGR fetuses with placental weight ≥250 g exhibited an F/P ratio significantly lower than that in AGA fetuses suggesting that IUGR may be due to a reduction of placental function per gram of tissue.