Sleep-awake state distribution during inter-feed intervals over a 24-hour period on the third day of life was investigated by means of a continuous non-intrusive bassinet sleep monitor. 31 infants were studied: 14 born to mothers who drank heavily throughout pregnancy (group A), eight whose mothers modified their heavy drinking (group B) and nine whose mothers never were heavy drinkers (group C). Over the 24-hour period, group A infants slept less than those in group B. In comparison with group C, group A infants had a larger proportion of quiet sleep episodes interrupted by awake or unclassified epochs, and were more restless, with more frequent major body movements. These pilot observations suggest that heavy maternal consumption of alcohol, when continued throughout pregnancy, is associated with a disturbance of sleep-awake state distribution. Successful therapy of heavy drinking during pregnancy may improve the physiological competence of the newborn to regulate sleep-awake states and facilitate interaction between mother and infant.