We compared the prevalence of learning disabilities at age 8 years in a subgroup of 68 of 129 (53%) regional cohort of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) children who were considered "normal" neurologically and intellectually (IQ greater than or equal to 85) with that of 114 term group matched controls (C). Both groups were tested with a battery of psychoeducational measures, and parents and teachers completed questionnaires on the school performance of the children. ELBW children were comparable with C on measures of intelligence (ELBW 101 +/- 8, C 104 +/- 11), language, and academic achievement but fared significantly less well in motor performance (p less than .0001). The prevalence of learning disabilities (by predefined criteria) in ELBW children (26%) was not increased compared with C (19%). However, teachers rated significantly more ELBW children as performing below grade level than were C (31% vs 16%, p less than .05), and by parent report, a higher proportion of ELBW children had received special assistance in school compared with C (37% vs 16%, p less than .001). We conclude that although the prevalence of learning disabilities in normal ELBW children was not different from that in controls, ELBW children did less well and utilized more special resources.