The objective of this study was to determine the effects of lumbar epidural anaesthesia on the Apgar score and acid-base status of the newborn. Umbilical artery blood gases were obtained in 85 singleton, term, uncomplicated pregnancies delivered by elective Caesarean section. The umbilical artery blood pH, PaCO2, PaO2 and HCO3 values and Apgar scores (1 and 5 minutes) were compared between lumbar epidural and general anaesthesia groups. General anaesthesia was used in 45 (52.9%) women and lumbar epidural anaesthesia in 40 (47.1%). Only 2 of the newborns exposed to epidural anaesthesia had umbilical artery blood pH values 7.19 or less. The mean umbilical artery blood pH was found to be significantly lower in the newborns exposed to lumbar epidural anaesthesia (p = 0.011), None of the newborns in the 2 groups were severely depressed (Apgar scores less than 4). The mean umbilical artery blood PaCO2, PaO2 and HCO3 values did not show any significant difference between the groups. In conclusion, lumbar epidural anaesthesia is associated with lower umbilical artery blood pH values, occasionally with severe fetal acidaemia.