The sick newborn infant is vulnerable to brain injury and impaired cerebral autoregulation is thought to contribute to this. Coherent averaging is a method of measuring the dynamic cerebral autoregulatory response that is particularly suitable for neonates. We used this method in combination with a measure of the gradient of the cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) response following transient blood pressure (BP) peaks to study dynamic autoregulation in infants undergoing intensive care. Term and preterm infants at high risk of neurologic injury were compared with a control group of infants, also undergoing intensive care. Simultaneous video-EEG, CBFV (using transcranial Doppler), and arterial blood pressure measurements were obtained intermittently during a study period of at least 2 h. Cerebral autoregulatory response curves were constructed for high risk and control groups. Intact cerebral autoregulation produces a characteristic response consisting of a brief period when CBFV follows arterial blood pressure but quickly returns to baseline value. An impaired autoregulatory response shows CBFV mirroring the arterial blood pressure curve closely. Thirteen high-risk infants, who also had seizures (10 term and 3 preterm) and 12 control infants (6 term and 6 preterm) were studied. Autoregulation was absent in high-risk term and preterm infants. It was also absent in preterm control infants. Term, neurologically healthy infants undergoing intensive care have an intact autoregulatory response. The constant passive response seen in high-risk infants may reflect the severity of the underlying neurologic disease.