We compared absorbance of amniotic fluid at 650 nm (A650) against the lecithin/sphingomyelin ratio, the quantity of disaturated phosphatidylcholine, and the presence or absence of phosphatidylglycerol in 374 uncontaminated amniotic fluid samples. in addition, we studied these measures of fetal lung maturity in 80 pregnancies where neonatal outcomes were known. Statistical analysis revealed a significant association between increasing absorbance and biochemical indices of lung maturation. Our results indicate that A650 of amniotic fluid is useful as a measure of lung maturity but that the greatest utility may be for samples with either low absorbance (<0.10) or high absorbance (>0.20). Because of large false positive and false negative values between these two absorbances, other lung maturity estimates should be used when absorbances fall within this range. Therefore, A650 may be most useful as a screen or as part of a battery of lung maturity estimates. We are exploring these possibilities as a means of providing better fetal lung maturity estimates.