The determinants of maternal morbidity are now receiving considerable attention. A study on maternal (obstetric) morbidity was conducted in three districts of West Bengal, India, where focus group discussions (FGD) revealed women's perceptions, knowledge and awareness of lacunae in the health system. Women's perspectives culled through FGD need to be incorporated into health policy and administration to improve women's reproductive healthcare and reduce mortality. © 2004, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.