Positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) is important for neonatal ventilation but is not considered in guidelines for resuscitation. Our aim was to investigate the effects of PEEP on cardiorespiratory parameters during resuscitation of very premature lambs delivered by hysterotomy at approximately 125 d gestation (term approximately 147 d). Before delivery, they were intubated and lung fluid was drained. Immediately after delivery, they were ventilated with a Dräger Babylog plus ventilator in volume guarantee mode with a tidal volume of 5 mL/kg. Lambs were randomized to receive 0, 4, 8, or 12 cm H(2)O of PEEP. They were ventilated for a 15-min resuscitation period followed by 2 h of stabilization at the same PEEP. Tidal volume, peak inspiratory pressure, PEEP, arterial pressure, oxygen saturation, and blood gases were measured regularly, and respiratory system compliance and alveolar/arterial oxygen differences were calculated. Lambs that received 12 cm H(2)O of PEEP died from pneumothoraces; all others survived without pneumothoraces. Oxygenation was significantly improved by 8 and 12 cm H(2)O of PEEP compared with 0 and 4 cm H(2)O of PEEP. Lambs with 0 PEEP did not oxygenate adequately. The compliance of the respiratory system was significantly higher at 4 and 8 cm H(2)O of PEEP than at 0 PEEP. There were no significant differences in partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood between groups. Arterial pressure was highest with 8 cm H(2)O of PEEP, and there was no cardiorespiratory compromise at any level of PEEP. Applying PEEP during resuscitation of very premature infants might be advantageous and merits further investigation.