A prospective study was devised to investigate how risk factors at delivery contribute to outcome at birth as measured by the type of resuscitation required ('skilled' or 'not skilled') and the Apgar score. In addition the number of unexpected 'crash calls' was recorded. In a 3-month sample, neonatologists attended 494 (38.6%) of 1279 deliveries. Of those attended, 188 (37.2%) required skilled resuscitation including 5 of 20 crash calls. Four risk factors at delivery were associated with skilled resuscitation: meconium, emergency caesarean section, prematurity and multiple births. Following the implementation of a revised resuscitation policy, a subsequent 3-month sample showed that 299 (24.8%) of 1206 deliveries were attended. A total of 175 (58.5%) required skilled resuscitation including 8 of 16 crash calls. The revised resuscitation policy, in our unit, proved to be safe and led to a reduction of attendance by neonatologists at deliveries.