The economic, social and health problems faced by former eastern bloc countries after the demise of the Soviet Union are unique in the recent history of Europe. We conducted a study in two urban areas of Ukraine, asking if the traditional predictors of preterm delivery continue to be associated with risk under these conditions. Subjects were pregnant women with last menstrual period (LMP) between 25 December 1992 and 23 July 1994. Self-completed questionnaires and the medical record provided data. We compared 137 spontaneous preterm deliveries with 2,886 full-term births, using all established risk factors for which we had data. Maternal age was the variable most strongly related to preterm birth. Being 18 or less had an odds ratio (OR) of 3.7; being 30+ had an OR of 2.5 relative to the reference group of age 25-29. Placental complications and pre-existing hypertension had ORs of 2.7 and 2.3, respectively, but the confidence interval included 1.0. Low net pregnancy weight gain (less than 10 kg) was significantly associated with preterm birth, but the rate of net weight gain was not. Marital status and educational category were only weakly related. We conclude that although Ukraine faced serious difficulties during its transition to a market economy, these problems did not generally alter the outcome of pregnancy in our sample when the classic risk factors for preterm delivery were present.