The study aimed to identify significant antenatal risk factors for cerebral palsy (CP) among extremely preterm infants with a matched case-control design. Infants born between 1989 and 1996 at 24 to 27 weeks' gestation who survived to hospital discharge were evaluated: 30 with a proven diagnosis of CP at 2 years corrected for prematurity and 120 control children matched for gestational age without CP. Information on maternal obstetric risk factors and medication was obtained. Matched analyses were performed and odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. An antenatal diagnosis of intrauterine growth restriction was associated with an increased risk of CP (OR 6.6; 95% CI 1.8 to 25.2), while maternal administration of corticosteroids was associated with a reduced risk of CP (OR 0.4; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.98). A high rate of placental histopathology was achieved but no relation between clinical or histological chorioamnionitis or funisitis and CP was demonstrated. Maternal preeclampsia was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of CP. It is concluded that a reduced risk of CP in extremely preterm infants is associated with the antenatal use of corticosteroids.