High concentrations of total vitamin C have been measured in the plasma of premature infants. At these concentrations ascorbic acid inhibited the ferroxidase activity of caeruloplasmin measured directly in vitro. The degree of inhibition was dependent on the ratio of ascorbic acid: caeruloplasmin. Values for the ratio of vitamin C: caeruloplasmin measured in premature babies would be predicted to inhibit ferroxidase activity by up to at least 80%. Ferroxidase activity measured in the plasma of premature babies increased from birth but was significantly lower than in plasma collected from adults (< 0.001). Plasma ferroxidase activity was correlated with plasma caeruloplasmin concentration and, in premature babies only, showed a negative correlation with the ratio of vitamin C to caeruloplasmin. High levels of vitamin C in premature babies may compromise antioxidant mechanisms and exacerbate oxidant damage.