One hundred twenty-one high-risk women (HRW) and 182 low-risk women (LRW) were studied at postpartal hospitalization and at 1, 4, and 8 months after giving birth to determine whether they would differ in the achievement of perceived maternal competence and whether predictors of maternal competence would differ for the two groups over time. No significant differences were found in the maternal role competence of HRW and LRW or in the trajectory of change over time. Maternal role competence increased at 4 and 8 months over earlier levels. Selected variables explained from 33% to 52% of HRW's maternal competence and from 29% to 51% of LRW's maternal competence over the four test periods. Self-esteem and mastery were consistent predictors of maternal competence for both groups. Fetal attachment was a predictor of competence among HRW only.