OBJECTIVE: In the United States, the rate of preterm delivery (PTD) is higher in African Americans (17.8%) than non-Hispanic whites (11.5%). Such disparity cannot be fully explained by differences in socioenvironmental factors. STUDY DESIGN: We genotyped 812 mothers in a case-control PTD study at Boston Medical Center who self-reported their ethnicity as "black." Regression analysis and Wilcoxon rank-sum test were applied to evaluate ancestral distribution and the association between genetic ancestry and PTD-related traits, as well as the potential confounding effect of population stratification. RESULTS: The estimated African ancestral proportion was 0.90 +/- 0.13. We found significant associations of ancestral proportion with PTD as a whole and PTD subgrouped by the presence of maternal hypertensive disorders. We did not observe significant confounding as a result of population stratification in this case-control PTD study. CONCLUSION: Our data underline the need for more intensive investigation of genetic admixture in African Americans to identify novel susceptibility genes of PTD.