BACKGROUND Monash Medical Centre (MMC) is a university-affiliated tertiary referral hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The hospital has a large obstetric service and is the only quarternary obstetric unit in Victoria. The intensive care unit (ICU) is a busy 21-bed general unit with a broad casemix. While there is no designated state service obstetric ICU in Victoria, MMC ICU has increasingly tried to accept all obstetric patients referred, from both MMC and externally. AIM To provide a local perspective on obstetric intensive care in Australia. METHODS A retrospective audit of obstetric ICU admissions over 2 years. RESULTS Sixty women were admitted, of whom 46 were postpartum. Twenty-nine women were transferred from external sites. Mean maternal age was 30.7 years, mean gestational age 34.5 weeks and mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) version IIIj score 33. Obstetric haemorrhage was the most common admission diagnosis, followed by hypertensive spectrum disorders. Three women were admitted for induction of labour. Median length of stay was 35 h. Twenty-seven women (45%) required mechanical ventilation. No woman died in the ICU, although one died in hospital post-ICU discharge. No data were collected on neonatal outcomes. CONCLUSIONS Critically ill obstetric patients can be managed successfully in a general ICU with obstetric input. It may be sensible to cluster these patients into units that are best equipped to deal with them, especially in the ante- and peripartum period.