Different human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtypes may have distinct biological, immunological and pathogenic properties. Efficiency of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) may be among those properties, but few and controversial results have been described so far. In this study, 102 children born from HIV-1-infected mothers between 1998 and 2004 in the city of Rio Grande, Brazil were analyzed for potential risk factors associated with MTCT. That geographic region is characterized by a high proportion of subtype C-infected subjects, and it allowed comparison between subtypes B and C and their influence on MTCT. The analysis also included clinical, obstetric and immunological parameters. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to evaluate the influence of the parameters on MTCT, and prevalence ratios (PR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI95) were also calculated. A surprisingly high prevalence of subtype C of over 70% was found. Only the HIV viral load and the use of ACTG 076 protocol were predictive of MTCT. HIV subtype and CD4 T-cell counts were not associated with increased risk of transmission. Although a clear expansion of subtype C is evident in southern Brazil, it does not seem to correlate with increased risk of vertical transmission.