Malaria infection during pregnancy is associated with poor maternal and foetal outcomes including low birth weight. In malaria-endemic areas, low birth weight is primarily a consequence of foetal growth restriction. Little is known on the pathogenesis of foetal growth restriction and our understanding of the relationship between epidemiological observations and the pathogenesis or consequences of disease is incomplete. In this review, we describe these gaps in our knowledge and also try to identify goals for future research into malaria in pregnancy. Foetal growth restriction results from a complex four-dimensional interaction between the foetus, the mother and the malaria parasite over gestation, and research into its pathogenesis may be advanced by combining longitudinal studies with techniques and approaches new to the field of malaria in pregnancy. Such approaches would greatly increase our knowledge on the pathogenesis of this disease and may provide new avenues for intervention strategies.