The objective of this study was to investigate circulating levels of cystatin C (an important endogenous marker of renal function) in mothers, fetuses, and neonates from intrauterine growth-restricted (IUGR; characterized by impaired nephrogenesis) and appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA) pregnancies. Serum cystatin C levels were measured by enzyme immunoassay in 40 parturients and their 20 IUGR (<or=3rd customized centile, due to gestational pathology) and 20 AGA fetuses and neonates on postnatal day 1 (N1) and 4 (N4). Comparatively, creatinine and urea concentrations were determined in the same samples. Fetal cystatin C levels were higher in the AGA than the IUGR group (P = .001). In both groups, maternal cystatin C levels were lower than fetal (P < .001), N1 (P < .001), and N4 (P < .001) levels. Fetal levels were higher than N1 (P < .001) and N4 (P < .001), and N1 levels were higher than N4 (P = .007) ones. In both groups, no correlation existed between maternal and fetal levels, but positive correlations were found between cystatin C, creatinine, and urea levels in maternal and neonatal samples (in all cases, r >or= 0.376 and P <or= .045). Cystatin C levels did not correlate with gestational age and did not differ between males and females. Fetal cystatin C serum levels are lower in the IUGR group, significantly decrease after birth, and do not correlate with maternal levels in both groups. In addition, serum cystatin C levels positively correlate with respective creatinine and urea levels in the perinatal period.