The 1994-96 Report on Maternal Deaths in Australia is the eleventh in a series of triennial reports on maternal deaths dating back to 1964. This is an important series of reports that act as a sentinel for obstetric care and safe motherhood experience. The report is based on maternal mortality data across all States and Territories combined, and the AIHW and NHMRC recognise that these data are of variable quality. In an effort to improve ascertainment of maternal deaths, this particular report is based upon three data sources: States and Territories Confidential Death Enquiries, National Hospital Morbidity Database and the AIHW National Mortality Database. Nevertheless, in some cases maternal mortality data may be incomplete. Proper interpretation of these data and valid comparison with maternal mortality data from previous periods are therefore not possible in these circumstances. Improved standardisation of these data will be the aim in future reports.