Placenta has a wide range of functions. Some are supported by novel genes that have evolved following gene duplication events while others require acquisition of gene expression by the trophoblast. Although not expressed in the placenta, high-affinity fetal hemoglobins play a key role in placental gas exchange. They evolved following duplications within the beta-globin gene family with convergent evolution occurring in ruminants and primates. In primates there was also an interesting rearrangement of a cassette of genes in relation to an upstream locus control region. Substrate transfer from mother to fetus is maintained by expression of classic sugar and amino acid transporters at the trophoblast microvillous and basal membranes. In contrast, placental peptide hormones have arisen largely by gene duplication, yielding for example chorionic gonadotropins from the luteinizing hormone gene and placental lactogens from the growth hormone and prolactin genes. There has been a remarkable degree of convergent evolution with placental lactogens emerging separately in the ruminant, rodent, and primate lineages and chorionic gonadotropins evolving separately in equids and higher primates. Finally, coevolution in the primate lineage of killer immunoglobulin-like receptors and human leukocyte antigens can be linked to the deep invasion of the uterus by trophoblast that is a characteristic feature of human placentation.