Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) continues to be one of the most common problems found in premature infants. The incidence is inversely related to gestation, but may be reduced by use of antenatal steroids, lower volume fluid regimen and judicious use of phototherapy. However, there continues to be controversy as to the appropriate indications for treatment, varying from prophylaxis on the basis of gestation to treatment only when a PDA is demonstrably significant. The situation is further complicated by differing diagnostic criteria for ductal patency or significance. Prophylactic treatment is likely to result in up to 64% of babies being treated unnecessarily. Early treatment of significant or symptomatic PDA depends upon accurate diagnosis. PDA closure can then be achieved using medical means, with surgery reserved for patients in whom this fails or in whom there are contra-indications. However, the optimum timing for intervention remains unknown.