OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this prospective study is to verify whether fetal periventricular echodensity (PVE) precedes neonatal periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). METHODS: Fetal brains were studied with transvaginal scan in 63 high-risk fetuses from 17 to 32 weeks of pregnancy, PVE echogenicity was quantified with ultrasonic histogram, and neonatal brains and clinical courses were studied after birth. RESULTS: No fetal cystic PVL was found, instead, fetal PVE was detected in 42 fetuses. The quantified echogenicity value was higher in PVE than in normal brain. Four cases developed neonatal PVL among 28 preterm and 1 among 14 term births. Neonatal PVL developed in the 23 cases of persistent fetal PVE, whereas no neonatal PVL was found when fetal PVE was negative or disappeared. Cord compression signs were common in PVL cases. CONCLUSION: Neonatal PVL was preceded by antepartum persistent fetal PVE in the present study.