The food habits during pregnancy were studied in Saudi women. The general plan of the study was to interview pregnant women about food cravings and avoidances during pregnancy. A systematic random sample of 321 pregnant women was chosen from three different primary health care centers in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. An interview questionnaire was used to collect data related to dietary habits during pregnancy and puerperium. The percentages of women with dietary cravings, pica and aversions were 38%, 8.8% and 66.4%, respectively. Saudi women craved for milk, salty and sour foods, sweets and dates. The avoidances included spicy foods and beverages. The study showed no relations between the literacy level and the food habits during pregnancy. During November-December 1991 in Saudi Arabia, interviews were conducted with 321 pregnant women (mean age, 27.2 years) attending three primary health care centers in Riyadh to determine their dietary practices and aversions during pregnancy. 38% craved and ate special foods (salty, sour foods, sweets, dates, milk, eggs, and meats). 33% of women during lactation ate special foods. During pregnancy 8.8% had pica cravings (the compulsion to consume non-food items) such as clay, ice, plaster, and paper. 66.4% of the women avoided milk, dates, beverages, and fungreek foods. 34.9% avoided tea, coffee, and cola beverages. 20.9% avoided meat. 33.6% listed no particular avoidances. Reasons given for avoiding foods were: unpleasant smell (9.4%), vomiting (28%), diarrhea (2.5%), undesirable effect on fetus (7.8%), heartburn (18.7%), and no particular reason (33.6%). Mother's age, mother's education, or husband's education were not associated with any of the food habits during pregnancy. Given the importance of nutritional value and composition of foods consumed during pregnancy and lactation, health workers should use these findings to provide appropriate nutrition counseling and education.