Spectral edge frequency (SEF) of the EEG was studied in 51 healthy neonates to assess its value as a measure of cerebral maturation. SEF was calculated as the frequency below which 95% of the power in the power spectrum resides. Summated SEF (sSEF) of 4 EEG channels correlated significantly with gestational age (r = 0.83). sSEF varied with behavioural state and with EEG derivation. Intra- and interindividual variability were both greater in preterm compared to term babies. We conclude that SEF is a useful measure of cerebral maturation in the newborn and may have a role in studying stressed newborns.