The experiment reported here explores the ability of 4- to 5-day-old neonates to discriminate consonantal place of articulation and vowel quality using shortened CV syllables similar to those used by Blumstein and Stevens [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 67, 648-662 (1980)], without vowel steady-state information. The results show that the initial 34-44 ms of CV stimuli provide infants with sufficient information to discriminate place of articulation differences in stop consonants ([ba] vs [da], [ba] vs [ga], [bi] vs [di], and [bi] vs [gi]) and following vowel quality ([ba] vs [bi], [da] vs [di], and [ga] vs [gi]). These results suggest that infants can discriminate syllables on the basis of the onset properties of CV signals. Furthermore, this experiment indicates that neonates require little or no exposure to speech to succeed in such a discrimination task.