A follow-up study was conducted in six community health centres during the period April 1989 to March 1990 to determine the risk factors which influence neonatal survival in central Sudan. The estimated neonatal mortality rate ranged between 20.0 and 36.0 per 1000 live births per year, and the major cause of death was tetanus neonatorum (29% of neonatal deaths). The mortality rate was lowest when tetanus toxoid was received during pregnancy and the umbilical cord was cleaned by a modern hygienic method (mortality rate of 11 per 1000). In contrast, the mortality rate was highest when no tetanus toxoid was received and no or traditional cord cleaning was used (mortality rate of 62 per 1000; relative risk (RR) = 5.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0-14.9). The major predictors of neonatal mortality were tetanus, short birth-to-conception interval, multiparity, reported malaria during pregnancy, low birthweight, low maternal weight and low socio-economic status. The population attributable risks were high, and the preventable factors collectively accounted for 93.5% of neonatal mortality. Safe deliveries and wider immunization coverage are needed to control neonatal tetanus in this community. Other interventions to lower neonatal mortality in central Sudan should include accessible family planning programmes and measures to lower the incidence of low birthweight.