Teams were divided into 3 groups of 3 teams each. The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The 2 group winners with the best record would qualify. The group winner with the worst record would advance to the CONMEBOL / OFC Intercontinental Play-off.
1The match was abandoned in the 67th minute with Brazil leading 1–0 after Chile walked off the field when a firecracker thrown from the crowd supposedly hit goalkeeper Roberto Rojas in the head, leaving him bloodied and having to be carried from the pitch on a stretcher; a subsequent FIFA investigation found that Rojas's injury was self-inflicted, using a razor blade concealed in his glove. The match was awarded 2–0 to Brazil, and Chile were banned from qualifying for the next World Cup. Rojas was given a lifetime ban from competitive football (lifted in 2001), as was Chile manager Orlando Aravena and team doctor Daniel Rodriguez.