This study explored Mandarin-speaking mothers` referential choice in relation to informativeness. The data consisted of two Mandarin-speaking mothers` natural conversation with their children, collected when the children were between the ages of 2;2 and 3;1. The subject and object arguments of the mothers` utterances were coded for the categories of referential forms and informativeness features. The referential forms included three categories: (1) null forms, (2) pronominal forms, and (3) nominal forms. The informativeness features included eight categories: (1) absence, (2) newness, (3) query, (4) contrast, (5) differentiation in context, (6) differentiation in discourse, (7) inanimacy, and (8) third person. The results showed that both mothers` referential choices were highly influenced by the eight informativeness features, and that their referential choices were made in accordance with discourse-pragmatic principles. Such referential strategies in maternal speech were observed from the time when the children were as young as 2;2 and throughout their development. In addition, analysis was conducted to compare the mothers` referential choice and the children`s referential choice. Some similarities and differences were observed. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to maternal language input and child language development.