Perinatal asphyxia is an important cause of neurological disability, but early prediction of outcome can be difficult. We performed proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and global cerebral blood flow measurements by xenon-133 clearance in 16 infants with evidence of perinatal asphyxia. Cerebral blood flow was determined daily in the first 3 days after birth in seven cases. Proton MRS was performed in 11 infants within the first week (mean 3.7 days), the rest within the first month (mean 22.2 days), and all had a scan around 3 months of age. Four infants died neonatally, three showed neurological deficits and the rest seemed to be progressing normally at neurodevelopmental follow-up at 1 year of age. A significant correlation was found between initial brain lactate levels and severe outcome (p = 0.0003) just as between cerebral hyperperfusion (mean cerebral blood flow (CBF) 86 ml(100 g)-1 min-1), (p = 0.02) and outcome. The diagnostic and prognostic implications of early MRS and CBF are predictive of poor outcome in severely asphyxiated infants.