Our purpose was to measure the size of the pons and cerebellum in preterm babies with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and to study their relationship with the severity of PVL and with perinatal risk factors. We examined 33 premature children, mean gestational age 31 weeks, range 26-36 weeks with PVL on MRI, and 27 full-term controls. On MRI at 0.4-5.5 years (mean 1.4 years) we measured the area of the corpus callosum and vermis, the anteroposterior diameter of the pons and the volume of the cerebellum. The area of the corpus callosum was used as a marker of white matter loss and PVL severity. All regional brain measurements except that of the vermis were significantly lower in patients than controls: corpus callosum (mm(2)): 239.6+/-92.5 vs 434.8+/-126.8, P <0.01; pons (mm): 14.8+/-3.0 vs 17.9+/-1.4, P <0.01]; cerebellum (cm(3)): 68.2+/-31.6 vs 100.6+/-28.3, P <0.01; vermis (mm(2)): 808.1+/-292.2 vs 942.2+/-246.2, NS. Significant reduction in the area of the vermis: 411.3+/-203.3 vs 935+/-252.6 mm(2); cerebellar volume: 16.3+/-12.5 vs 96.6+/-20.2 mm(3); and the diameter of the pons: 10.1+/-2.2 vs 17.5+/-1.3 mm ( P<0.01) were observed in seven children with gestational age < or =28 weeks, severe hypotension and large patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). There was a significant correlation between the duration of mechanical ventilation and the size of the vermis, pons and cerebellum (R=-0.65, -0.57 and -0.73, respectively, P <0.01).