Traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation via the venoarterial route requires cannulation and ligation of the internal jugular vein and common carotid artery. Concerns about ligation of the common carotid artery prompted development of a 14F double-lumen internal jugular vein cannula for venovenous oxygenation for neonates with respiratory failure. We retrospectively compared 22 patients supported by venovenous bypass and 20 patients supported with traditional venoarterial bypass. The two groups of patients were selected to be comparable in terms of diagnosis and severity of respiratory insufficiency. The diagnoses in both groups were limited to meconium aspiration syndrome or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn. The average oxygenation indexes in the two groups were similar (46.6 venovenous, 47.2 venoarterial, p = not significant). Venovenous access allowed flow rates of more than 100 ml/kg per minute, which were adequate for gas exchange support. One patient required conversion from venovenous to venoarterial bypass because of hemodynamic instability. The average time of bypass support was 115 hours (range 24 to 338 hours) for venovenous bypass and 134 hours (range 47 to 361 hours) for venoarterial bypass (p < 0.05). The time to extubation after decannulation from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was 133 hours (range 38 to 720 hours) for venovenous support and 100 hours (range 27 to 192 hours) for venoarterial support (p = not significant). One patient supported with venoarterial bypass had an intracranial hemorrhage. There were no documented neurologic injuries in the patients managed with venovenous bypass. There were no deaths in either group. Venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation through a double-lumen cannula can adequately provide respiratory support for neonates with pulmonary failure and effectively avoids ligation of the common carotid artery.