A prospective randomized trial was performed in 58 neonates comparing nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) vs oxyhood following extubation of neonates weighing less than 1 kg. All neonates had been ventilated for the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome for at least 24 hours and weighed less than 1 kg at the time of extubation. Clinical criteria for elective extubation included improving pulmonary status, fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) less than or equal to 0.35, mean airway pressure less than or equal to 7 cm H2O, ventilator rate less than or equal to 20 breaths per minute, and weight at least 80% of birth weight. Informed consent was obtained and neonates were randomized to NCPAP or oxyhood following extubation. Success was defined as remaining free of additional ventilatory support for at least 5 days. Failure criteria included FIO2 greater than or equal to 0.60 to maintain pulse oximetry greater than or equal to 93%, PaCO2 greater than or equal to 60 mm Hg, pH less than or equal to 7.23, or moderate to severe apnea. Results demonstrate that 22 (76%) of 29 neonates were successfully extubated to NCPAP while only 6 (21%) of 29 were successfully extubated to oxyhood (P less than .0001). There were no differences in baseline characteristics between the two groups. Of the 23 neonates who failed oxyhood, 21 were then given a trial of NCPAP and 58% (12/21) remained extubated. Data indicate that using selected clinical criteria for elective extubation of neonates weighing less than 1 kg, NCPAP facilitates successful extubation.