DNA methylation plays an important role in suppressing retrotransposon activity in mammalian genomes, yet there are stages of mammalian development where global hypomethylation puts the genome at risk of retrotransposition-mediated genetic instability. Hypomethylated primordial germ cells appear to limit this risk by expressing a cohort of retrotransposon-suppressing genome-defence genes whose silencing depends on promoter DNA methylation. Here, we investigate whether similar mechanisms operate in hypomethylated trophectoderm-derived components of the mammalian placenta to couple expression of genome-defence genes to the potential for retrotransposon activity. We show that the hypomethylated state of the mouse placenta results in activation of only one of the hypomethylation-sensitive germline genome-defence genes: Tex19.1. Tex19.1 appears to play an important role in placenta function as Tex19.1(-/-) mouse embryos exhibit intra-uterine growth retardation and have small placentas due to a reduction in the number of spongiotrophoblast, glycogen trophoblast and sinusoidal trophoblast giant cells. Furthermore, we show that retrotransposon mRNAs are derepressed in Tex19.1(-/-) placentas and that protein encoded by the LINE-1 retrotransposon is upregulated in hypomethylated trophectoderm-derived cells that normally express Tex19.1. This study suggests that post-transcriptional genome-defence mechanisms are operating in the placenta to protect the hypomethylated cells in this tissue from retrotransposons and suggests that imbalances between retrotransposon activity and genome-defence mechanisms could contribute to placenta dysfunction and disease.