OBJECTIVE To investigate the effects of positive nutritional support in the early stage after birth on the nutritional status during hospitalization and extrauterine growth restriction (EUGR) in preterm infants. METHODS There were two groups of preterm infants. Group A (n=99) was given the previous nutritional program, while group B (n=101) was given positive nutritional support. The nutritional intake, growth rate and EUGR incidence were compared between the two groups. RESULTS Compared with group A, group B had significantly higher enteral calorie intake and total calorie intake within one week after birth. Additionally, the age of first feeding, time of regaining birth weight, duration of intravenous nutrition, time to full enteral feeding, and length of hospital stay in group B were all shorter than in group A. Group B also had less physiological weight loss than group A. Among the preterm infants with a gestational age less than 32 weeks, group B had faster increases in body weight, head circumference, and body length and a lower incidence of EUGR compared with group A. Among the preterm infants with a gestational age not less than 32 weeks, group B had faster increases in body weight and a lower incidence of EUGR (evaluated based on body weight and head circumference) compared with group A. During hospitalization, group B had significantly lower incidence of feeding intolerance, necrotizing enterocolitis, and sepsis than group A. CONCLUSIONS Positive nutritional support strategy, applied in preterm infants early after birth, can effectively improve their nutritional status during hospitalization and reduce the incidence of EUGR without increasing the incidence of related complications during hospitalization.