This study assessed antenatal care (ANC) coverage, place of delivery and use of skilled birth assistants in three communities in Kaduna State, Nigeria. The sample included 332 women who had delivered within two years of the survey. ANC attendance rates were high, with 76.2% of women reporting at least one visit, and 63.3% receiving four or more. However, median gestational age at the first visit was four months and only 9.3% received all the recommended components. Health facility deliveries (11.7%) were far lower than ANC attendance. Educational status was found to be statistically significantly associated with all ANC and safe delivery outcomes. To make significant progress towards the fifth MDG in northern Nigeria, effective strategies to encourage women’s education paired with improvements in ANC quality (especially within communities) is essential. Most importantly, safer delivery options that would be acceptable in communities where women traditionally birth at home need to be explored (Afr. J. Reprod. Health 2010; 14: 89-96).