Between April 1980 and March 1986, 19 infants underwent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunting procedures for post-haemorrhagic ventricular dilatation at the Hammersmith Hospital, London. A total of 58 shunt-related procedures have been performed on these children. The major perioperative complication was seizure activity (eight children). Postoperative complications included infection (12 shunts) and blockage (29 shunts). Prophylactic antibiotics failed to prevent shunt infection. The likelihood of the first shunt failing was significantly reduced by greater weight of the infant and lower CSF protein at surgery. Long-term outcome was poor: three have died and another four are quadriplegic with severe mental retardation. Only four children are developmentally normal. These outcomes cannot be related to the shunt surgery or its complications, but correlate best with pre-operative parenchymal brain-lesions, as shown on ultrasound scans.