To describe a unique international effort to develop a training program in West Africa that would be of similar quality to any other in the world (but with sensitivity to cross-cultural needs) and would retain physicians in West Africa to improve women's health in that part of the world. Step-by-step formulation of a program included initial trainee recruitment, the inclusion of foreign guest faculty, and the establishment of institutional libraries. This was followed by a phase of curriculum development, recruitment of West African faculty, and organization of an innovative, community-based fourth year. Between ten and 12 postgraduates will have completed the program by January 1996, and will be placed in Ghana. More than 60% of Ghanaian postgraduates have passed the relevant regional examinations, compared with less than 25% of candidates from other countries. Nine Ghanaian specialists have returned to Ghana to become faculty members in the program. Over 20 published peer-reviewed articles have resulted from this program since 1989. The number of residents being trained has increased from three to 28. Seven new residents joined the program in 1994. An early reduction in maternal mortality from 9.9 deaths per 1000 births in 1991 to 4.2 deaths per 1000 births in 1992 was noted when senior postgraduates took over labor and delivery at the teaching hospital in Accra, Ghana, where approximately 10,000 deliveries occur per year. Specialty training in obstetrics and gynecology that is specifically aimed at meeting the needs of West Africa has been initiated successfully. Long-range success will require support from regional governments and continued long-term commitments from the international community of obstetricians and gynecologists.