Progress in neonatal intensive care is closely linked to improvements in the management of respiratory failure in small infants. This applies to the care of the preterm infants with immature lungs, and also to treatment of the preterm or full term infants with specific diseases that are associated with respiratory failure. Respiratory distress of the newborn continues to account for significant morbidity in the intensive care unit. The spectrum of disease ranges from mild distress to severe respiratory failure requiring varying degrees of support. The current modalities of ventilatory assistance range from the more benign continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to conventional mechanical ventilation, and on to high frequency ventilation. It is a reasonable supposition that the type of ventilatory assistance provided to these infants should be graded according to the severity of the disease. However, the principal objective in selecting the mode of respiratory support should be to use a modality which results in minimal volo- or barotrauma to the infant. The following detailed description on CPAP explains its physiological effects, delivery system, indications for use, application, maintenance, and associated complications. The equipment described is simple to use, has a greater cost benefit, and has a more universal application, which is of help to smaller units including those in the developing parts of the world. We have also included our institutional clinical experience of CPAP usage in very low birth weight infants from the periods before and after commercial availability of surfactant in the United States.