A paediatrician trainer from Australia (JT) spent 3 months in South Africa to assist with the development of neonatal resuscitation training in rural areas, particularly in district hospitals. The project was initiated by the Rural Health Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand and coordinated through the Family Medicine Education Consortium (FaMEC). The Rural Workforce Agency of Victoria together with General Practice and Primary Health Care Northern Territory covered the salary and international travel costs of the trainer, while local costs were funded by provincial departments of health, participants and a Belgian funded FaMEC project. The trainer developed an appropriate one-day skills training course in neonatal resuscitation (NNR), using the South African Paediatric Association Manual of Resuscitation of the Newborn as pre-reading, and a course to train trainers in neonatal resuscitation. From July to October 2004 he moved around the country running the neonatal resuscitation course, and, more importantly, training and accrediting trainers to run their own courses on an ongoing basis. The neonatal resuscitation course involved pre- and post-course multiple-choice question tests to assess knowledge and application, and, later, pre- and post-course skills tests to assess competence. A total of 415 people, including 215 nurses and 192 doctors, attended the neonatal resuscitation courses in 28 different sites in eight provinces. In addition, 97 trainers were trained, in nine sites. The participants rated the course highly. Pre- and post-course tests showed a high level of learning and improved confidence. The logistical arrangements, through the departments of family medicine, worked well, but the programme was very demanding of the trainer. Lessons and experiences were not shared between provinces, leading to repetition of some problems. A clear issue around the country was a lack of adequate equipment in hospitals for neonatal resuscitation, which needs to be addressed by health authorities. A process of ongoing training has been established, with provincial coordinators taking responsibility for standards and the roll-out of training. A formal evaluation of the project is planned. The project serves as a model for skills training in rural areas in South Africa, and for collaboration between organisations. A number of specific recommendations are made for the future of this NNR training project, which offer lessons for similar programmes.