Despite the increasing prevalence of pertussis in young adults and infants, reports of maternal-neonatal pertussis are rare. Our study involves three neonates who apparently acquired pertussis from their adolescent mothers. The diagnosis of pertussis was initially missed in all of the patients. The mothers had mild respiratory disease. All three newborns presented with life-threatening coughing and choking spells without a characteristic inspiratory whoop. Two neonates had apnea, bradycardia, cyanosis, and unresponsiveness, but were without the initial lymphocytosis that is distinctive of pertussis. These two neonates had a clinical course that was consistent with the historic "100-day-cough." They required prolonged ventilatory support and hospitalization at a high cost. The other neonate had a terminal pulmonary hemorrhage. Strategies for the early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this potentially lethal disease in neonates are discussed.