The postnatal growth, respiratory status and neurodevelopmental outcome of surviving babies enrolled in the first European multicentre trial of porcine surfactant (Curosurf) replacement for severe neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, were assessed at corrected ages of 1 and 2 years. Follow up rates of survivors were 93% at 1 year and 89% at 2 years. Treated and control groups were similar at both 1 and 2 years in terms of physical growth, the prevalence of persistent respiratory symptoms and the occurrence of major and minor disability. Serum antibodies recognising Curosurf and surfactant-anti-surfactant immune complexes were detected in both treated and control babies, the titres showing no difference between groups. Examination of histological lung sections from non-survivors revealed a higher incidence of severe pulmonary interstitial emphysema in control babies than in those treated with surfactant. Surfactant treatment for severe respiratory distress syndrome reduces neonatal mortality and air leaks and is not associated with an increase in disability 2 years later.