Recognizing the impressive range of behavioral capacities of newborn infants, clinicians and researchers have long searched for valid assessment instruments to help evaluate infant behavior. Behavioral assessments with high predictive validity would aid the goals of developmental diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment programs for infants born at risk from biological or environmental circumstances. The failure of current assessments to predict developmental outcome based on infant behavior may be due to the limited information about higher central nervous system (CNS) functioning obtained from available measures, or to the very dynamic nature of CNS organization in young infants. We begin our review by discussing some major functional characteristics of neonates and then proceed to describe critically the commonly used methods of neurological and behavioral assessment. Noting the need for measures that are more predictive, we turn next to a discussion of a number of experimental techniques that seem to hold great promise for developmental prediction and clinical application.