[en] Interactions between the conceptus and the mother are bi-directional: the feto-placental tissues need nutrition and a suitable environment in homeostatic condition whereas the mother influenced by the placental factors adapts her metabolism and immune system. Many different mechanisms acting locally or at distance ensure tolerance of the semi-allogeneic graft by the maternal natural and adaptive immune defences. In front of this tolerance, mechanisms exist ensuring rejection of the conceptus by the mother (spontaneous abortion) through rupture of one or more tolerance mechanisms, notably in stress situations endangering the mother. Thus outcome of a pregnancy is dependent on efficiently working tolerance mechanisms, and rupture of such mechanisms can lead to rejection. The balance of influence leading either to tolerance or rejection is under control of internal (maternal and fetal) and external (environmental) factors. Rejection, if triggered, mainly occurs through immune-induced inflammation, tissue degradation and coagulation. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.