A prospective study was undertaken over a 1-year period in northern Jordan to determine the incidence, causes and characteristics of neonatal septicaemia which is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in newborns. The study identified 47 septicaemic neonates, representing an incidence of 2.3/1000 live births. Respiratory distress and hyperbilirubinaemia were the prominent presenting clinical findings. Gram-negative organisms were cultured from 46 neonates with Klebsiella species, accounting for 64% of cases. There were no cases of infection with group B Streptococcus or Listeria monocytogenes. The overall mortality rate was 40%. Prematurity and low birthweight, early onset septicaemia and concomitant meningitis were associated with high mortality. The high incidence of Gram-negative septicaemia and the antibiotic sensitivity pattern of the organisms indicated the use of cefotaxime or ceftazidime as initial therapy while awaiting culture results. Continued surveillance of neonatal septicaemia is mandatory due to temporal changes in the causative organisms and their antibiotic sensitivity.