The mean birth weight of black infants is consistently less than that of white infants. In 1518 low-income multiparous women, the mean difference in singleton births was 171 g, of which 38 g was partitioned to preterm births and another 35 g reflected lower gestational ages in term births. A series of regression analyses were used to determine the effect of black race on various newborn measurements in 1205 term newborns, adjusting for other known risk factors. In this model, black race accounted for a mean decrease of 148 g in weight and 0.52 cm in length. There were also significant decreases in mean head (0.44 cm), chest (0.66 cm), and abdominal (0.56 cm) circumferences. Arm and leg lengths were not different, but black arm circumferences (0.14 cm) were significantly larger. Triceps and thigh skin fold measurements were not statistically different, but black subscapular skin fold values were significantly smaller (0.17 mm). The ponderal index in blacks was significantly less than in whites. These data suggest that in this population, intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors associated with race account for most smaller black newborn measurements and for much of the racial difference in birth weight. © 1991 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.