Hemorrhage continues to be the leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity throughout the world. In England and Wales from 1970-87 hemorrhage, including ectopic pregnancy, was a major factor in over 40 maternal deaths. In the majority of deaths the care was substandard. In 70% of obstetric deaths from hemorrhage defective hemostasis contributes to the bleeding. Inappropriate correction of hypovolemia, failure to recognise and treat coagulation failure, and failure to control traumatic bleeding are the main causes of preventable death. In developing countries, cross matched blood and blood products may not be readily available. Surgical intervention should be preceded or accompanied by correction of the hemostatic defect with fresh frozen plasma and if necessary platelet concentrates. Teamwork with experienced staff is the essence of successful management of severe hemorrhage in obstetrics and surgery. A protocol should be agreed between medical nursing and laboratory staff for dealing with massive blood loss.