To establish guidelines for the routine use of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) vaccine in preterm infants, we quantitated antibody responses of preterm infants to DTP and determined the nature and extent of side effects. Twenty-five preterm infants were immunized with 0.5 ml DTP vaccine at routine intervals. Term infants served as controls. Immediately before each immunization and 2 months after the third, DTP-specific antibodies were quantitated. Clinical side effects were determined by parental report. After the second immunization, 100% of preterm infants had evidence of specific antibody production against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The incidence of side effects was low, but irritability was significantly more common in preterm infants after the second immunization. These observations suggest that the initiation of primary immunization with DTP in preterm infants need not be delayed beyond 2 months of age.