In women under the age of 40, over 50 of type A aortic dissections occur in the obstetric population. This is a complex situation, with potential catastrophic outcomes for mother and child. Time to diagnosis is often delayed by a low degree of suspicion, atypical presentation and difficulties investigating pregnant women. Management requires early involvement of multiple teams and appreciation of potential complications. We report our experience (the largest series described) and describe our surgical strategy. METHODS: A retrospective search of the cardiothoracic surgical database at our centre from 2002 to 2010 identified five pregnant women with type A dissections. RESULTS: Median time to diagnosis was 18.5 h (range 5.5-150 h) and median time from diagnosis to arrival in the operating theatre was 1.5 h (range 0.5-54 h). Four patients underwent concomitant Caesarean section and dissection repair. There was one maternal death and one unrelated foetal death. CONCLUSION: Occurrence of type A aortic dissection in pregnant women is uncommon but potentially catastrophic. A high index of suspicion and timely investigations are necessary to expedite definitive management. Sound surgical strategies and collaboration with appropriate teams are necessary to optimise outcome.