Pre-eclampsia remains a leading cause of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. It is a pregnancy-specific disease characterised by de-novo development of concurrent hypertension and proteinuria, sometimes progressing into a multiorgan cluster of varying clinical features. Poor early placentation is especially associated with early onset disease. Predisposing cardiovascular or metabolic risks for endothelial dysfunction, as part of an exaggerated systemic inflammatory response, might dominate in the origins of late onset pre-eclampsia. Because the multifactorial pathogenesis of different pre-eclampsia phenotypes has not been fully elucidated, prevention and prediction are still not possible, and symptomatic clinical management should be mainly directed to prevent maternal morbidity (eg, eclampsia) and mortality. Expectant management of women with early onset disease to improve perinatal outcome should not preclude timely delivery-the only definitive cure. Pre-eclampsia foretells raised rates of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in later life, which could be reason for subsequent lifestyle education and intervention.