The placenta, as the vector for all maternal-fetal oxygen and nutrient exchange, is a principal influence on birthweight. Placental weight summarizes laterally expanding growth of the chorionic disc, and villous arborization yielding the nutrient exchange surface. These different growth dimensions alter fetoplacental weight ratio and ponderal index, and thus may modify placental functional efficiency. The placenta may show a range of histopathologies, some of which are also associated with fetal growth restriction. Different fetal intrinsic abilities to compensate for gross and histo-pathology may clarify the imperfect relationships between fetal growth and both intrauterine pathology, and the long-term health risks associated with poor fetal growth.