Plasma zinc (Zn) concentrations were measured in 4376 indigent women (86% African-American), at a mean (± SD) gestational age of 15 (± 7.8) wk to determine the relationship between various maternal characteristics and plasma Zn levels during pregnancy. Mean plasma Zn levels were lower in African-American women than in Caucasian women, in multiparous women than in primiparous women, and in women with body weight >69.9 kg than in those with body weight ≤69.9 kg (p ≤ 0.001 for each comparison). There were no significant differences related to maternal age, marital status, education, or smoking habit. Multiple regression analysis, including maternal prepregnancy weight, race, age, parity, smoking habit, education, and marital status indicated that race, parity, and pregnancy weight were significantly associated with maternal plasma Zn levels, adjusted for gestational age. Maternal race was the best predictor of plasma Zn concentrations among the population of pregnant women studied A significant proportion of variance in maternal plasma Zn levels remained unexplained after taking into account various maternal characteristics. The reasons for lower plasma Zn levels in African-American women, compared to Caucasian women, during pregnancy are unknown.