Perinatal data on 805 infants of diabetic mothers and 10,152 infants of nondiabetic mothers were examined for a relation between maternal diabetes and respiratory-distress syndrome of the newborn. The syndrome occurred in 23.4 per cent of the diabetic vs. 1.3 per cent of the nondiabetic group. The risk of the syndrome in an infant of a diabetic mother was 23.7 times greater than that for an infant of a nondiabetic mother (P less than 0.00001). Further analysis to control for features associated with diabetes but also in themselves risk factors, such as gestational age and route of delivery, showed that respiratory-distress syndrome in infants of diabetic mothers was 5.6 times as likely to develop as in infants of nondiabetic mothers (P less than 0.00001). Thus, maternal diabetes mellitus per se predisposes to newborn respiratory-distress syndrome.