This paper is the fourth in a series of reviews that will summarize available data and critically discuss the potential role of lung-function testing in infants with acute neonatal respiratory disorders and chronic lung disease of infancy. The current paper addresses information derived from tidal breathing measurements within the framework outlined in the introductory paper of this series, with particular reference to how these measurements inform on control of breathing. Infants with acute and chronic respiratory illness demonstrate differences in tidal breathing and its control that are of clinical consequence and can be measured objectively. The increased incidence of significant apnea in preterm infants and infants with chronic lung disease, together with the reportedly increased risk of sudden unexplained death within the latter group, suggests that control of breathing is affected by both maturation and disease. Clinical observations are supported by formal comparison of tidal breathing parameters and control of breathing indices in the research setting.