Twenty preterm newborn infants were randomized to receive either atropine alone (20 micrograms/kg) or atropine plus succinylcholine (2 mg/kg) before nasotracheal intubation. Heart rate, BP, transcutaneous PO2, and intracranial pressure were monitored continuously before, during, and after intubation. No infants developed bradycardia or hypoxia. Intracranial hypertension developed during intubation in the infants receiving atropine alone, but was prevented by premedication with succinylcholine and atropine (p less than .01). A 41% increase in systemic BP occurred immediately after the administration of succinylcholine (p less than .01). BP increased during intubation in both groups, and the overall peak BP was not significantly different between the groups. Intubation was significantly shorter in the infants receiving succinylcholine. Premedication with succinylcholine and atropine will facilitate intubation of neonates, and ameliorate the adverse physiologic consequences of this procedure.