OBJECTIVE: To compare venous cord plasma concentrations of 4 vasoactive peptide precursors: carboxy-terminal proarginine vasopressin, CT-prondothelin (ET)-1, midregional proadrenomedullin, and MR-proatrial natriuretic peptide, between fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction and appropriate for gestational age controls. STUDY DESIGN: Matched-pair analysis of 12 fetuses with significant intrauterine growth restriction and 42 healthy appropriate for gestational age control fetuses. All infants were singletons, delivered by elective section after 34 weeks and without chromosomal abnormalities. RESULTS: Umbilical cord plasma copeptin levels (median [range]) were 4-fold higher in intrauterine growth restriction infants than in matched appropriate for gestational age controls: 23.2 (6.7-449) vs 5.1 (2.5-53) pmol/L (P < .001). Multivariate regression analysis revealed an association between copeptin and umbilical artery resistance index z-score (P = .034). The 3 other precursor peptides showed no changes. CONCLUSION: High copeptin concentrations in the cord blood of intrauterine growth restriction newborns reflect a fetal stress response and support the fetal programming hypothesis.