BACKGROUND: Continuity of care and of caregiver are thought to be important influences on women's experience of maternity care. The aim of this study was to analyze the influence of two aspects of continuity of caregiver in the antenatal period on women's overall rating of antenatal care: the extent to which women saw the same caregiver throughout pregnancy, and the extent to which women thought that their caregiver knew and remembered them and their progress from one visit to the next. METHODS: An anonymous, population-based postal survey was conducted of 1,616 women who gave birth in a 14-day period in September 1999 in Victoria, Australia. Multivariate methods were used to analyze the data. RESULTS: Most women saw the same caregiver at each antenatal visit (77%), and thought that caregivers got to know them (65%). This finding varied widely among different models of maternity care. Before adjustment, women were much more likely to describe their antenatal care as very good if they always or mostly thought the caregiver got to know them (OR 5.86, 95% CI 4.3, 7.9), and if they always or mostly saw the same caregiver at each visit (OR 2.91, 95% CI 2.0, 4.3). Adjusting for sociodemographic factors, parity, risk status of the pregnancy, and several specific aspects of antenatal care revealed that seeing the same caregiver was no longer associated with rating of care (adjusted OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.3,1.2), but women who thought that caregivers got to know and remember them remained much more likely to rate their care highly (adjusted OR 3.18, 95% CI 2.0, 5.1). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that changing the delivery of antenatal care to increase women's chances of seeing the same caregiver at each visit is not by itself likely to improve the overall experience of care, but time spent personalizing each encounter in antenatal care would be well received. The analysis also confirmed the importance that women place on quality interactions with their doctors and midwives.