The Project On Preterm and Small for gestational age infants (POPS) was started in the Netherlands in 1983 to investigate the relation between prenatal/perinatal factors and mortality/morbidity in very preterm and very-low-birthweight infants. Of the 1338 liveborn infants (less than 32 weeks and/or less than 1500 g) 966 were enrolled in the five-year (chronological age) follow-up programme; 96% of these children were assessed during a home visit. The overall outcome was expressed as impairments, disabilities, and handicaps according to World Health Organisation criteria. Of the assessed children, 13% had a disability and 14% were handicapped, which are much higher frequencies than those found in the general population. Handicaps were due mainly to abnormalities of neuromotor function, mental development, or language and speech development. Compared with the handicap frequency in the same cohort at two years of age, a more favourable outcome at five years of age was seen in 10%, and a less favourable outcome in 7% of the children. The findings show that most of those high-risk children survived without handicap or serious disability at preschool age.