The aim of this Hong Kong-based study was to evaluate Chinese women's perspectives on the educational effectiveness of hospital-based antenatal education programmes in the preparation for pregnancy, labour and the early postpartum period. A multiple case study design was used including a programme satisfaction questionnaire (PSQ), an antenatal knowledge questionnaire (CANKQ), and telephone interviews repeated during pregnancy and postnatally with the women attending each programme. Antenatal knowledge was seen to improve at both hospitals as a result of the programme. The interpersonal skills of the midwives, the presentation skills of the educators and the perceived accessibility of the health professionals to ask questions to were considered important to the Chinese women. In addition, the importance of providing education about Chinese medicine in pregnancy and postnatal care (e.g. the need for rest and recovery, and restrictions on their activities) was emphasized. The need for a comprehensive curriculum covering all stages of the childbirth process from pre-pregnancy to parenting was highlighted. The importance of regular evaluation to ensure antenatal education programmes continue to meet Chinese women's needs and expectations is suggested. From this study, recommendations are made to develop a framework which incorporates a methodology for health education planning that focuses on the effectiveness of health services from the perspective of Chinese.