Ninety-eight newborn infants, less than 34 weeks at birth, were studied to examine the relationship between newborn hypotension and hypoxemia and brain damage. Heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen tension were recorded continuously during the 96 h following delivery. Outcome measures included neuropathology in children who died, and motor and cognitive development at one year corrected age in children who survived. There were 22 children with a minor and 27 with a major abnormal outcome. There was a relationship between newborn hypotension, newborn hypoxemia and low birth weight, and a major abnormal outcome. The probability of a major abnormal outcome increased from 8% in newborns with no hypotension or hypoxemia, to 53% in children with both hypotension and hypoxemia. These findings support the contention that combinations of sustained newborn hypotension and hypoxemia are important factors in the development of brain damage, accounting for a major abnormal outcome.