To investigate whether or not the mode of delivery produces differences in cerebral oxygenation, cerebral hemoglobin oxygen saturation was measured using full-spectrum near infrared spectroscopy in 26 healthy term newborn infants immediately after birth. Infants in group 1 (n=20) were delivered vaginally, and those in group 2 (n=6) by elective cesarean section. Arterial oxygen saturation in the right hand was also measured simultaneously using a pulse oximeter. Changes in arterial oxygen saturation showed no significant difference between the two groups. The mean+/-S.D. of cerebral hemoglobin oxygen saturation in group 1 increased rapidly after birth, from 29+/-17% at 2 min to 68+/-6% at 8.5 min, followed by an almost constant value (66+/-7% at 15 min). In comparison, cerebral hemoglobin oxygen saturation in group 2 also increased rapidly until 8.5 min, but after this time decreased significantly to 57+/-5% at 15 min after birth. This indicates that the mode of delivery has a marked influence on cerebral oxygenation immediately after birth.