Human parvovirus B19 infection is widespread. Approximately 30–50% of pregnant women are nonimmune, and vertical transmission is common following maternal infection in pregnancy. Fetal infection may be associated with a normal outcome, but fetal death may also occur without ultrasound evidence of infectious sequelae. B19 infection should be considered in any case of nonimmune hydrops. Diagnosis is mainly through serology and polymerase chain reaction. Surveillance requires sequential ultrasound and Doppler screening for signs of fetal anaemia, heart failure and hydrops. Immunoglobulins, antiviral and vaccination are not yet available, but intrauterine transfusion in selected cases can be life saving.