A method for obtaining fetal cells for diagnostic examination comprises removing detached cells from the uterine cavity and outer surface of the amnionic sac. The cells are then incubated in the presence of a separation antibody which binds preferentially to either fetal cell antigens or maternal cell antigens for a time sufficient to permit antibody-antigen binding to occur. Cells having said separation antibody bound thereto are separated for the mixture. The separation antibody can be an anitbody binding preferentially to fetal cell antigens and not significantly to maternal cell antigens or it can be an antibody binding preferentially to maternal cell antigens and not significantly to fetal cell antigens. The antibody can be bound to an insoluble support prior to the incubation, and separation can be effected by separating the insoluble support from the cell mixture following the incubation. Alternatively, the separation antibody can be fluorescent labeled, and cells conjugated with fluorescent labeled antibody can be removed using a cell sorter. The isolated fetal cells are then propagated to obtain a population sufficient for diagnostic examination.