Mothers and children in any country comprise a large, vulnerable population subgroup. Women have special risks related to child bearing, while children face perils during the course of their overall development. In the attempt to address the myriad health needs of women and children, maternal and child health (MCH) services have been bolstered in India during 1992-93 by the government introduction of the National Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Program. Available data in India indicate a dramatic decline in the rate of maternal mortality over the past three decades, but the level of mortality nonetheless remains alarmingly high. Approximately 70% of maternal deaths could, however, be avoided were deliveries conducted by skilled and trained personnel in clean environments. Like the rate of maternal mortality, the rate of infant mortality has declined significantly, but remains high. Low birth weight, premature birth, infections, birth injuries, and congenital malformations are the major causes of infant death. The main problems currently affecting MCH in India are malnutrition, infection, and the consequences of unregulated fertility. Continuing population growth is undermining India's natural resource base and jeopardizing the agricultural economy upon which most Indians depend for their livelihood. Moreover, social problems such as female foeticide, female infanticide, neglect of female children, lack of awareness, and the inadequate availability and use of MCH services compound the effect of the major medical MCH problems in the country.