In 2005, the rate of induction of labor for all births in the United States calculated from birth certificate data approached 22.3%. In 2006, the Listening To Mothers II Study suggested that induction of labor might be as high as 50% if attempts at self-induction are considered. All induction methods hold some measure of risk for minor and more serious and sometimes even life-threatening complications for the mother and fetus. This article contains a review of the physiology of labor, accepted pharmacologic and mechanical methods of induction, and data about alternative methods women use for induction, including acupuncture and herbal preparations. Risks and complications for women undergoing labor induction are described, and the role of the nurse in patient education and counseling is discussed.