The prevalence of learning problems and of cognitive and motor impairment in a total geographically based very-low-birthweight population (N = 324) was compared at eight years of age with that in a population comprising two classroom peers, matched for gender and age (N = 590). 15 per cent of those with birthweights less than 1000g and 6 per cent of those weighing 1000 to 1499 g attended special schools. Index children in main-stream schools performed significantly less well in tests of neuromotor function than their comparison groups. Their mean IQs were 90.4 and 93.7 for those below and above 1000 g, respectively, while their comparison groups' IQs were 102.5 and 101.2. In all cognitive subscales apart from that testing short-term auditory sequential memory, both index groups were less competent. They were also less able in Word Reading and Basic Number Skills. These children placed heavy demands on mainstream schools, with 52 per cent and 37 per cent of the index groups, respectively, requiring learning support compared with 16 per cent in both comparison groups.