The effects of sepsis on carbohydrate metabolism were studied in preterm newborn infants (weight > 1.2 kg, appropriate for gestational age) without maternal endocrine problems who were being examined for infection. Plasma glucose, lactate, and insulin concentrations were measured at initial evaluation and then every 8 hours for a total of 48 hours. Blood, urine, and spinal fluid were obtained for culture and counterimmunoelectrophoresis. Dextrose was administered to each patient to maintain glucose levels in the normal range. Dextrose infusion rates were calculated in milligrams per kilogram per minute. Of the 29 infants, 6 had sepsis (positive culture and counterimmunoelectrophoresis results). Infants with sepsis had significant elevations of plasma lactate concentration (p < 0.003) but normal pH. The dextrose infusion rate was also significantly elevated in the infected infants (p < 0.01). No hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia was observed in either group. No significant difference in plasma insulin concentration was observed. We conclude that significant elevations in plasma lactate concentrations and dextrose infusion rate may be early clinical markers of neonatal sepsis in the first 48 hours of life.