This study examined Chinese fathers' feelings about their partners' delivery and views on their presence during labour and birth. A questionnaire survey was conducted with 403 fathers whose partners gave birth in one provincial hospital in China. Data were analysed by descriptive statistics, χ(2)-test and content analysis. The results indicated that more than 80% of fathers experienced feelings of pride related to fatherhood and of love towards their partners and newborns. Significant differences in fathers' feelings were found between subgroups with regard to age, education, employment, presence in the delivery room, method of birth and whether preparatory visits had been made to the hospital. The majority who answered an open-ended question on the meaning of fathers' presence in the delivery room held a positive attitude towards fathers' presence at labour and birth, as their presence could empower their partners and provide psychological support. This study indicates fathers' presence at delivery and birth is important and that younger fathers need more support. It also provides evidence for clinical practice and future interventions to improve fathers' psychological health and experiences.