The effectiveness of caffeine citrate in preventing idiopathic apnea in premature infants was evaluated. Thirty-seven preterm infants born before the 32nd week of gestation were studied. After an intravenous loading dose of 10 mg/kg of caffeine citrate, two different oral maintenance regimens were followed: 5 mg/kg in Group I and 2.5 mg/kg in Group II. A significant decrease in the number of apneic spells occurred in both treated groups as compared with a control group. In Group II, the frequency of side effects such as tachycardia and gastrointestinal intolerance was significantly lower than in Group I. Group II theophylline plasma levels were significantly lower than those of Group I. The lower Group II theophylline levels presumably explain the reduced frequency of side effects.