OBJECTIVES. We sought to describe prenatal care use in the United States and in three European countries where accessibility to prenatal care has been reported to be better than it is in the United States. METHODS. We analyzed the 1980 US National Natality Survey, the 1981 French National Natality Survey, a 1979 sample of Danish births, and a survey performed from 1979 to 1980 in one Belgian province. RESULTS. The proportion of women who began prenatal care late (after 15 weeks) is highest in the United States (21.2%) and lowest in France (4.0%). This contrasts with the median number of visits, which is greater in the United States (11) than in Denmark (10) or in France (7). Across all maternal ages, parities, and educational levels, late initiation of prenatal care is more frequent in the United States, and median number of visits in the United States is equal to or higher than that in the other countries. CONCLUSIONS. In countries that offer nearly universal access to prenatal care, women begin care earlier during pregnancy and have fewer visits than women in the United States.