At the 1999 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction there were three speakers in the minisymposium entitled ``I've got to get out of here: fetal-maternal interactions involved in parturition''. The primary focus was on research progress in understanding the mechanisms involved in human parturition. Although the title of the symposium emphasized the need to ``get out'', there was considerable emphasis on understanding the problem of ``getting out too early'' or preterm birth. While preterm birth is unusual in most species, it is of major clinical importance in the human. The data presented by one of the speakers is reviewed here with a focus on preterm labor and preterm premature rupture of the fetal membranes as mechanisms involved in the diverse pathology of preterm birth.
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