Infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can have initial lung atelectasis which, in survivors, gradually improves over time. To test the hypothesis that these patients could benefit from surfactant therapy, infants with CDH (born at > 34 weeks' gestation) on ECMO received either four doses of modified bovine lung surfactant extract (beractant) (surfactant group, n = 9) or an equal volume of air (control group, n = 8). Tracheal aspirate surfactant protein-A (SP-A) concentrations were initially low, and then increased over time in both CDH groups (P = .0021); however, levels remained low when compared with those of infants on ECMO who had other diagnoses (P = .04). Lung compliance (CL), time to extubation, time on oxygen, and total no. of hospital days were not different between the two groups. Infants with CDH had persistently elevated right ventricular pressure (RVP) at cessation of bypass when compared with non-CDH infants on ECMO (RVP = 53.25 mm Hg +/- 19.52 in the CDH group, 32.90 +/- 10.63 in the non-CDH group; P = .0121). The findings suggest that the postnatal surfactant deficiency may be more persistent in CDH infants than in non-CDH infants on ECMO. However, CDH remains a multifactorial condition, with delayed improvement, because of persistence of pulmonary hypertension, difficulties with vascular remodeling, degree of lung hypoplasia, or compromised respiratory mechanics.