The study of respiratory mechanics in infants requires a noninvasive accurate measurement of the lung volume changes (DeltaVL). Optoelectronic plethysmography (OEP) allows the assessment of DeltaVL through the measurement of the chest wall surface motion and it has been proved to be accurate in adults. The aim of this study was to apply OEP to newborns and to validate it by comparison to pneumotachography. Twenty term and preterm newborns (GA = 34 +/- 5 wk) in stable condition were studied during 1 to 2 min periods of quiet breathing in supine position. Airway opening flow was measured by applying a facemask connected to a pneumotachograph (PNT) and integrated to provide the DeltaVL. Chest wall volume changes were simultaneously measured by OEP. The tidal volume values measured by pneumotachography and by OEP were compared for each breath. A total of 771 breaths from all patients were considered. Bland-Altmann analysis showed a mean difference of -0.08 mL and a limit of agreement ranging from -2.98 to 2.83 mL. Linear regression analysis demonstrated good correlation between the two techniques (r = 0.95, q = 1.00 mL, m = 0.96). OEP provides accurate measurements of DeltaVL in newborns and may be useful to study respiratory mechanics and breathing patterns during spontaneous breathing and mechanical ventilation.