Although cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of motor deficiency in young children, it occurs in only 2 to 3 per 1000 live births. In order to monitor prevalence rates, especially within subgroups (birthweight, clinical type), it is necessary to study large populations. A network of CP surveys and registers was formed in 14 centres in eight countries across Europe. Differences in prevalence rates of CP in the centres prior to any work on harmonization of data are reported. The subsequent process to standardize the definition of CP, inclusion/exclusion criteria, classification, and description of children with CP is outlined. The consensus that was reached on these issues will make it possible to monitor trends in CP rate, to provide a framework for collaborative research, and a basis for services planning among European countries.