In order to evaluate the value of neonatal brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for predicting neuromotor outcome in very low birthweight (VLBW) preterm infants, 51 such infants with gestational age <34 wk underwent brain MRI at term age. Myelination, parenchymal lesions (haemorrhage, leukomalacia, infarction, reduction of white matter), parenchymal lesions without subependymal haemorrhage, ventricular/brain ratios and widths of the extracerebral spaces were assessed. The MRI findings were compared with cranial ultrasound (US) performed at term. Infants' neuromotor development was followed up until 18 mo corrected age. Parenchymal lesions seen in MRI at term predicted cerebral palsy (CP) with 100% sensitivity and 79% specificity, the corresponding figures for US being 67% and 85%, respectively. Parenchymal lesions in MRI, excluding subependymal haemorrhages, predicted CP with a sensitivity of 82% and a specificity of 97%, the corresponding figures for US being 58% and 100%, respectively. Delayed myelination, ventricular/brain ratios and widths of the extracerebral spaces failed to predict CP. Term age is a good time for neuroradiological examinations in prematurely born high-risk infants. Parenchymal lesions seen in MRI are reliable predictors for CP.