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To describe the natural history of fetuses presenting with pleural effusion.Between January 2005 and December 2009 all fetuses diagnosed with pleural effusion were followed up. Fetuses were divided into three groups: I, isolated pleural effusion; II, associated structural anomalies but normal karyotype; and III, chromosomal anomalies. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the association between prenatal ultrasound findings and perinatal death.Fifty-six fetuses were included in the study. Associated structural or chromosomal anomalies occurred in 75.0% (42/56) of cases. Bilateral pleural effusion and fetal hydrops were associated with each other (p < 0.01) and with perinatal death (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis indicated that only the presence of associated abnormalities was a statistical determinant of perinatal death (OR, 3.56; 95% CI, 1.48–5.64; p < 0.01).Fetal pleural effusion is often associated with other abnormalities, and this association has poor perinatal outcome. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.