Since the advent of technologies to produce genetic knockout and transgenic mice, the number of mouse strains suggested to be useful as models for pregnancy-related complications in the human has risen substantially. Some of these share features in common with fetal growth restriction (FGR) and preeclampsia (PE) and could be useful for investigating aetiologies and for testing potential therapeutics to improve outcome in these diseases. However, since placental pathology is a major underlying factor in both FGR and PE, it is important to understand the similarities and differences in structure and function of the placenta between mice and women. The main aim of this review is to directly compare placental exchange physiology between human and mouse. The review will compare human and mouse in both normal and pathological circumstances, to attempt to answer the question of whether placental studies in the mouse can be translated to the human. The review includes descriptions of placental structure between the species, comparisons of nutrient transport, including amino acids, glucose and calcium, and evidence of how these transport systems are altered in both human FGR and mouse models of this disease. Finally, our review will conclude by examining studies in which mouse models of FGR/PE have been treated with drugs of potential therapeutic value in women and consider whether data obtained in mice can be a prelude for clinical trials in human.