OBJECTIVE : To assess umbilical artery lactate levels and perinatal outcomes among women with and without HIV infection. METHODS : The present prospective cohort study recruited women planning to undergo vaginal delivery at Kalafong Hospital, South Africa, between March 3 and November 12, 2014. Umbilical artery lactate levels were measured and perinatal outcome data were recorded. Outcome analyses were stratified by maternal HIV status, and a subgroup analysis was performed where women with a CD4 count below 350 × 106 cells/L were compared with women without HIV. RESULTS : In total, 936 women with singleton fetuses were enrolled. Maternal HIV status was available for 897 (95.8%) participants, of whom 202 (21.6%) had HIV infections. Overall, 186 (92.1%) women with HIV infections received prophylaxis or treatment. There was no difference between participants with and without HIV infections in the preterm delivery rate (P=0.770), mode of delivery (P=0.354), neonatal resuscitation rate (P=0.717), 1‐ or 5‐minute Apgar scores below 7 (P=0.353), or the rate of having an umbilical artery lactate level above 5.45 mmol/L (P=0.301). Similarly, there were no differences in outcomes in the subgroup analysis of women with a CD4 count below 350 × 106 cells/L. CONCLUSION : Umbilical artery lactate levels and perinatal outcomes were found to be comparable between patients with and without HIV infections in a South African setting.