Premature infants exposed to chorioamnionitis are at increased risk for periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), lesions that may result from inflammation and/or fluctuations in cerebral blood flow. The effect of chorioamnionitis on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) measures of cerebral oxygen delivery has not been evaluated previously. Forty-nine infants born at 25-31 6/7 wk gestation underwent NIRS examination on d 1, 2, 3, and 7 of life. Variability in NIRS tracings was analyzed by partitioning each tracing into three components: long-term, intermediate, and short-term variability; the latter two components were analyzed. Chorioamnionitis-exposed infants manifest reduced intermediate variability in cerebral oxygenated and deoxygenated Hb but not total Hb. Infants with severe IVH/PVL had the lowest intermediate variability on d 1. Short-term variability was similar between chorioamnionitis-exposed and unexposed infants, and between infants with versus without severe IVH or PVL. We conclude that intermediate-term variability in NIRS cerebral oxygen delivery is reduced in chorioamnionitis-exposed infants. We speculate that intermediate variability represents the important time frame for evaluating the pathogenesis of perinatal brain injury. Further studies are needed to determine how these findings relate to cerebral blood flow autoregulation and oxygen utilization in premature infants.