This study was undertaken to determine maternal impact of corticosteroids administered for the promotion of fetal lung maturity in mothers with the HELLP syndrome. Twenty-seven of 427 women with the HELLP syndrome treated between 1980-1991 received a full course of steroids prior to preterm delivery. This group was compared to 27 matched control patients with the HELLP syndrome who received no corticosteroids. Subjects were matched for maternal age, race, sex of the fetus, and severity of the HELLP syndrome. The antepartum platelet count stabilized or increased in 25 of 27 steroid-treated women in contrast to 0 of 15 control women (p < 0.00001). In comparison to control patients, LDH serum concentrations in steroid-treated patients stabilized or decreased and the SGOT/AST and SGPT/ALT stabilized or decreased during therapy (p < 0.005). The interval from delivery to platelet nadir in patients with Class III HELLP syndrome was shorter in the steroid-treated group (p < 0.008) than in untreated patients.