BACKGROUND: Sulfonamide antibacterials are widely used in pregnancy, but evidence about their safety is mixed. The objective of this study was to assess the association between first-trimester sulfonamide exposure and risk of specific congenital malformations. METHODS: Mother-infant pairs were selected from a cohort of 1.2 million live-born deliveries (2001-2008) at 11 US health plans comprising the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program. Mothers with first-trimester trimethoprim-sulfonamide (TMP-SUL) exposures were randomly matched 1:1 to (i) a primary comparison group (mothers exposed to penicillins and/or cephalosporins) and (ii) a secondary comparison group (mothers with no dispensing of an antibacterial, antiprotozoal, or antimalarial medication during the same time period). The outcomes were cardiovascular abnormalities, cleft palate/lip, clubfoot, and urinary tract abnormalities. RESULTS: We first identified 7615 infants in the TMP-SUL exposure group, of which 7595 (99%) were exposed to a combination of TMP-SUL and the remaining 1% to sulfonamides alone. After matching (1:1) to the comparator groups and only including those with complete data on covariates, there were 20 064 (n = 6688 per group) in the primary analyses. Overall, cardiovascular defects (1.52%) were the most common and cleft lip/palate (0.10%) the least common that were evaluated. Compared with penicillin/cephalosporin exposure, and no antibacterial exposure, TMP-SUL exposure was not associated with statistically significant elevated risks for cardiovascular, cleft lip/palate, clubfoot, or urinary system defects. CONCLUSIONS: First-trimester TMP-SUL exposure was not associated with a higher risk of the congenital anomalies studied, compared with exposure to penicillins and/or cephalosporins, or no exposure to antibacterials.