Very low birthweight liveborn infants (less than 1,500 g, VLBW) born in Sweden 1973-88 were identified from the Medical Birth Registry and efforts were made to remove wrongly recorded birthweights--9% of infants with a registered birth weight below 1,500 g were removed. Some VLBW infants were not recorded in the register and the estimate of the prevalence at birth of VLBW infants is therefore slightly underestimated. It increased from about 5.5 per 1,000 during the period 1973-84 to 6.7 per 1,000 during 1987-88. 18% of VLBW infants were involved in multiple births. Median Apgar score at 5 min increased for each 100 g birthweight class. Even at a birthweight between 1,400 and 1,499 g, a low Apgar score at 5 min was seen in 20%. The rate of cesarean section increased between 1973 and 1983 from about 10% to 60%. One-year survival for infants with a birthweight less than 1,000 g increased from less than 20% in 1973-75 to 50% in the 1986-88 cohorts. Corresponding figures for infants with a birthweight between 1,000 and 1,499 g were 60% and 90%. A markedly better one-year survival is already evident in the 600-699 g class. On stratifying for 100 g birthweight class, perinatal death risk was higher in boys than in girls and higher in multiple births than in singletons. An increased rate of congenital malformations was seen in the 1,000-1,499 g class but not in the less than 1,000 g class.