ECMO is capable of safely supporting respiration and circulation in newborns with severe respiratory failure and a moribund clinical presentation. The results thus far suggest that term infants with respiratory failure are the best candidates for ECMO, with a survival rate of 83 per cent. Infants under 35 weeks' gestation have a very high incidence of intracranial hemorrhage. Consequently, we do not currently accept them for ECMO treatment. The outcome of the survivors is largely determined by the clinical condition before ECMO and by major complications. Research must be directed toward cost effectiveness, timing and earlier use, alternative vascular access, cannula and circuit design, and expanded indications.