Chemerin is a novel adipokine linked to inflammation. The cross-sectional studies have reported that maternal chemerin serum concentrations are significantly increased in pre-eclampsia. However, limited data are available regarding the cause-effect relationship between chemerin and pre-eclampsia. The aim of this prospective observational study was to evaluate predictive significance of the first-trimester maternal serum chemerin levels for pre-eclampsia and to further confirm the hypothesis that chemerin is an important causative factor in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia. 518 pregnancy women were recruited. The first-trimester maternal serum chemerin levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The first-trimester maternal serum chemerin levels were statistically significantly elevated in women with pre-eclampsia compared with those without pre-eclampsia and in severe pre-eclampsia women compared with mild pre-eclampsia women. Serum chemerin levels remained positively associated with plasma C-reactive protein levels using a linear regression model. A logistic-regression analysis demonstrated that body mass index and serum chemerin levels appeared to be the independent predictors of pre-eclampsia. A receiver–operating characteristic curve analysis identified that serum chemerin levels predicted pre-eclampsia with high predictive value. The predictive value of the chemerin concentrations was similar to that of body mass index. Chemerin improved the predictive value of body mass index statistically significantly. Thus, our results suggest that high serum chemerin levels are associated with inflammation and pre-eclampsia independently, as well as chemerin may play a role as predictive biomarker for pre-eclampsia and be an important causative factor in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia.