Objective: To determine whether maternal plasma levels of 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME) are decreased early in pregnancies that subsequently develop pre-eclampsia (PE) and whether this difference could be attributed to the presence of Val158Met catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) polymorphism in the placenta. Methods: Clinical characteristics and plasma samples were collected at 11 to 14weeks prospectively in a cohort of patients. From them, 13 PE and 72 control pregnant women were chosen. Plasma soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase1 and placental growth factor levels were measured by electrochemiluminescence and 2-ME was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry detection. At delivery, placental tissue was collected and the Val158Met COMT polymorphism was determined by restriction fragment length polymorphism-PCR. Results: At 11 to 14weeks, patients who would develop PE have significantly lower plasma levels of 2-ME than controls [1.9±2 standard error of the mean (SEM) vs 61.7±27pg/mL, P<0.05]. The Val158Met polymorphism was more frequent in controls than in PE patients and the placental presence of COMT polymorphism was associated with a decreased risk of developing PE [PE: 23.1% vs control: 66.6%; χ 2=10.9, p=0.0041]. Conclusions: Lower plasma concentrations of 2-ME during early pregnancy in patients who subsequently develop PE were found. Presence of placental Val158Met COMT polymorphism is associated with a decreased risk to develop PE, suggesting a protective role against PE.