There is increasing evidence that cerebral palsy (CP) in developed countries results mainly from antenatal factors, whereas reports from developing countries suggest that perinatal and postnatal factors may be more important because of less than optimal delivery conditions. The authors studied 103 Saudi children with CP and compared their antecedent factors with those of a control group. The major risk factors identified were a history of CP in a sibling and consanguinity of the parents. Low birthweight (less than 2000g), gestational age less than 32 weeks, twin pregnancy and respiratory distress were significantly more frequent among CP cases than controls. The results suggest that antenatal factors, including inherited ones, play a major role in the pathogenesis of CP in Saudi Arabia, which is contrary to previous reports from this region. Their contribution to the pathogenesis of CP in developing countries may be greater than previously assumed.