Many techniques used in neonatal intensive care are invasive and the risk of producing skin damage is high. To investigate this, 100 consecutive survivors of neonatal intensive care (gestation 26-42 weeks, median 32) were examined in detail by a single observer at 16-29 months of age, and the scar severity, site and likely cause noted. Scarring was present in all infants although it was usually trivial. The total number of scars was inversely related to gestational age and directly related to the duration of intensive care. Eleven children had cosmetically or functionally significant lesions caused by chest drain insertion, extravasation of intravenous fluid or skin stripping by adhesive tape. To reduce the frequency and severity of skin damage, neonatal staff need to be aware that many routine procedures may lead to long term scarring. In particular, more careful wound closure after chest drain removal is needed.