BACKGROUND: Optimizing product quality is a current focus in cord blood banking. This study evaluates the role of selected donor- and collection-related variables. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Retrospective review was performed of cord blood units (CBUs) collected ex utero between February 1, 2000, and February 28, 2002. Preprocessing volume and total nucleated cell (TNC) counts and postprocessing CD34 cell counts were used as product quality indicators. RESULTS: Of 2084 CBUs, volume determinations and TNC counts were performed on 1628 and CD34+ counts on 1124 CBUs. Mean volume and TNC and CD34+ counts were 85.2 mL, 118.9 × 107, and 5.2 × 106, respectively. In univariate analysis, placental weight of greater than 500 g and meconium in amniotic fluid correlated with better volume and TNC and CD34+ counts. Greater than 40 weeks' gestation predicted enhanced volume and TNC count. Cesarean section, two-versus one-person collection, and not greater than 5 minutes between placental delivery and collection produced superior volume. Increased TNC count was also seen in Caucasian women, primigravidae, female newborns, and collection duration of more than 5 minutes. A time between delivery of newborn and placenta of not greater than 10 minutes predicted better volume and CD34+ count. By regression analysis, collection within not greater than 5 minutes of placental delivery produced superior volume and TNC count. CONCLUSION: Donor selection and collection technique modifications may improve product quality. TNC count appears to be more affected by different variables than CD34+ count.