During 1974 and 1975, five newborn infants weighing between 760 and 1600 g developed severe intraabdominal complications of NEC due to necrotic bowel with perforation and peritonitis. Because these tiny neonates were very ill with sepsis and other severe medical problems, no attempt at laparotomy under general anesthesia was carried out. Instead, using local anesthesia, the contaminated peritoneal cavity was drained via a small incision, usually in the right lower quadrant. This permitted evacuation of air, pus, and stool. In all babies there was improvement evident in the abdomen within one wk, although two of the five newborns died from other causes. The three survivors are well and have normally functioning intestinal tracts 1-2 yr following surgery. One of these surviving babies developed a bowel stricture which subsequently required resection. We feel this method is preferable in the handling of the tiny sick neonate with a bowel perforation from NEC.