One hundred and forty-eight (95.5%) of 155 consecutive two-year survivors of 227 very low birthweight (VLBW, less than 1501 g) infants and 50 (83.3%) of 60 infants of normal birthweight who were selected at random, all of whom were born at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne from October 1980 to March 1982, were seen at the age of two years. Social, psychological and health data were compared between the groups. The mean Bayley Mental Developmental Index scores of VLBW children were significantly lower; the prevalence of major handicaps and poor growth (height and weight below the 10th percentile), and the number of hospital readmissions, wheezing episodes, major and minor congenital anomalies and postnatally-acquired malformations (for example, abnormally shaped skull) were significantly greater in VLBW children. There was a trend for a greater number of episodes of otitis media, lower respiratory tract infections and surgical procedures per child in VLBW children. Extremely low birthweight children (birthweight less than 1000 g) contributed significantly to this morbidity. Parents of VLBW children perceived significantly more problems with infant vomiting and behavioural disturbances at two years of age. The children of mothers of limited education, or immigrant status and non-fee paying or lower socioeconomic families had lower mean Bayley Mental Developmental Index scores but similar handicap rates and health status in both weight cohorts.