Measurement of oxygen saturation using pulse oximetry is an established method of continuous monitoring of the well-being of the human fetus during parturition. In veterinary medicine, pulse oximetry has been used almost exclusively in intensive care and anesthesiology. The goal of the present study was to investigate the physiological changes in oxygen saturation of the bovine fetus during stage II of parturition and to determine whether the findings can be used to predict postnatal acidosis. The correlation between the oxygen saturation (SpO(2)) measured via pulse oximetry and the oxygen saturation (SaO(2)) of arterial blood measured via blood gas analysis was determined in 23 newborn calves. In addition, the oxygen saturation was monitored continuously via pulse oximetry (FSpO(2)) in 33 bovine fetuses during stage II of parturition. Correlations between the FSpO(2) values during the last 30 and 5min of stage II of parturition and the postpartum values for pH, partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide, bicarbonate concentration, BE, SaO(2) and lactate concentration in arterial blood were determined. There was a high correlation between SpO(2) and SaO(2) postpartum (r=0.923). The FSpO(2) values correlated moderately with the pH and BE and weakly with the lactate concentration postpartum; calves with a pH<7.2, a BE<-3mM/L or a lactate concentration of >5.4mM/L had significantly lower FSpO(2) values than non-acidotic calves. FSpO(2) values <30% for a period of at least 2min had the highest predictive value for a calf born with a pH<7.2. Pulse oximetry is a novel method of monitoring the bovine fetus during parturition; however, technical modifications are required to improve its usefulness.