In a randomized clinical trial, we evaluated the efficacy of an oral immunoglobulin preparation (73 percent IgA and 26 percent IgG) in reducing the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis in infants of low birth weight for whom breast milk from their mothers was not available. A total of 434 infants weighing between 800 and 2000 g were eligible for entry in the study. Of these, 255 were withdrawn - 234 during the first week of the study because breast milk from their mothers became available (123 in the treatment group and 111 in the control group), and 21 because of violations of protocol or because breast milk became available after the first week. The duration of follow-up was 28 days. Among the infants for whom breast milk did not become available during the study, there were no cases of necrotizing enterocolitis among the 88 receiving oral IgA-IgG, as compared with six cases among the 91 control infants (P = 0.0143). Of the infants withdrawn from the study, two assigned to the control group had necrotizing enterocolitis. We conclude that the oral administration of IgA-IgG may prevent the development of necrotizing enterocolitis in low-birth-weight infants.