Bedside microcomputer-derived, minute-to-minute mean arterial pressure (MAP) values during the first 48 hours of life were studied in 100 preterm babies with birth weight less than or equal to 1500 gm. In those babies (n = 72) with no periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage (PV-IVH) or with grade 1 PV-IVH, the MAP values increased during the study period, with minute-to-minute variation and interval undulation. The MAP values in those with birth weight greater than 1000 gm were higher than in those of lower birth weight. Infants in whom grades 2 to 4 PV-IVH developed (n = 28) had consistently lower MAP values during the study period. Minute-to-minute variability, expressed as the average of the coefficients of variation at 15-minute intervals, did not differ between birth weight groups, nor did they differ between the PV-IVH group and their matched control subjects. However, those with PV-IVH spent a greater percentage of time, with a coefficient of variation greater than or equal to 13% or less than 3%, than their matched control subjects spent (p less than 0.005). This study provides reference data for MAP changes in premature babies. The observed MAP changes in those with PV-IVH lend support to a significant role for MAP alterations in the pathogenesis of PV-IVH.