The prevalence of medical problems in pregnancy is increasing because of a complex interplay between demographic and lifestyle factors, and developments in modern medicine. Maternal mortality and morbidity resulting from treatable medical conditions, such as venous thromboembolism, epilepsy and autoimmune disease, have not decreased in recent years. This is despite a marked decrease in overall maternal mortality. It is vital that all physicians acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of medical problems in pregnancy. This includes prepregnancy measures such as counselling and optimisation of medical therapy, as well as multidisciplinary management throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period. Prompt recognition and treatment of acute and chronic illness is of clear benefit, and most drugs and many radiological investigations may be used in pregnancy.