Although neonatal thyroid screening programs have been of value in preventing cerebral damage, it is still controversial whether patients with congenital hypothyroidism achieve normal motor and cognitive skills. We studied the motor and cognitive skills of 72 children with early-treated congenital hypothyroidism and 35 control subjects at the ages of 7 1/2 and 9 1/2 years. The relative influence of cause, blood thyroxine concentration at the time of screening, and age at the start of thyroxine replacement therapy on motor and cognitive development was investigated. Despite having received treatment at a mean age of 23 days, children with low neonatal thyroxine concentrations (< 50 nmol/L) at screening, particularly children with thyroid agenesis, had significant motor problems and borderline intelligence scores as late as 9 1/2 years of age. Balance and gross motor functions seemed to decline between 7 1/2 and 9 1/2 years of age, whereas language and memory functions seemed to be maintained. Significant correlations between the start of therapy and both motor scores and performance IQ scores at the age of 7 1/2 years in children with severe hypothyroidism show the importance of early treatment for these patients.