In order to increase understanding of the origin of neonatal neurological morbidity, the relationship between the obstetrical and neonatal neurological conditions was studied in a 3-year cohort containing 3162 singleton infants. The infants were neurologically examined at term age according to the technique described by Prechtl. Obstetrical data were documented extensively. Prechtl's optimality concept was applied in the analysis. A statistically significant relationship was found between the obstetrical and neonatal neurological optimality scores. There was no sex difference in the obstetrical optimality, whereas there was in the neurological optimality, to the advantage of the girls. It could be shown that obstetrical conditions such as acidemia, preterm birth and intrauterine growth retardation have a stronger relationship to neurological morbidity when the accompanying obstetrical optimality is lower. In obstetrical practice the application of the optimality concept to obstetrical and neurological data is a helpful complementary refinement.