Population-based estimations of perinatal and neonatal outcomes are sparse in Vietnam. There are no previously published data on small for gestational age (SGA) infants. A rural population in northern Vietnam was investigated from 1999 to 2005 (n=5521). Based on the birthweight distributions within the population under study, reference curves for intrauterine growth for Vietnamese infants were constructed and the prevalence and distribution of SGA was calculated for each sex. Neonatal mortality was estimated as 11.6 per 1000 live births and the perinatal mortality as 25.0 per 1000 births during the study period. The mean birthweight was 3112 g and the prevalence of low birthweight was 5.0%. The overall prevalence of SGA was 6.4%. SGA increased with gestational age and was 2.2%, 4.5% and 27.1% for preterm, term and post-term infants, respectively. Risk factors for SGA were post-term birth: adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 7.75 [95% CI 6.02, 9.98], mothers in farming occupations AOR 1.72 [95% CI 1.21, 2.45] and female infant AOR 1.61 [95% CI 1.27, 2.03]. There was a pronounced decrease in neonatal mortality after 33 weeks of gestation. Suggested interventions are improved prenatal identification of SGA infants by ultrasound investigation for fetal growth among infants who do not follow their expected clinical growth curve at the antenatal clinic. Other suggestions include allocating a higher proportion of preterm deliveries to health facilities with surgical capacity and neonatal care.