AIM: This study's aim was to increase knowledge about maternal and paternal self-rated health and body mass index in relation to lifestyle during early pregnancy. METHODS: Study subjects were expectant parents visiting antenatal care (2006-07) as part of the Salut Programme in northern Sweden. During early pregnancy, 468 females and 413 male partners completed questionnaires. The questions addressed sociodemography, self-rated general health, weight and height, satisfaction with weight, and lifestyle, such as dietary habits, physical activity, sleeping pattern, and alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. RESULTS: Most rated their general health as good, very good, or excellent, although women less often than men (88% and 93%). The sex difference was more prominent when restricting the comparison to self-rated health being very good or excellent--49% of the women compared to 61% of the men. Being overweight or obese was common (53% of the men and 30% of the women). Few participants fulfilled the national recommendations with respect to a health-enhancing lifestyle; this was somewhat more common for women than men. Expectant parents with normal body mass index and vigorous physical activity were more likely to have very good or excellent self-rated health. CONCLUSIONS: Most expectant parents perceived their general health as good, although this perception was less for women than men. Being overweight and having a non-health-enhancing lifestyle were more common for men than women. Thus, there is need for more powerful health-promoting interventions for expectant parents.