• We compared selected neonatal characteristics of 40 children who were abused and neglected (34) or who failed to thrive (six) and 40 nonabused, thriving children individually matched by hospital of birth, gender, mother's welfare status, race, and age at which abuse or failure to thrive was manifested. The populations were preponderantly lower-class, black, and male. The following characteristics were overrepresented in the study population: birth order second or later, low birth weight, admitted to neonatal intensive care unit, and discharged from hospital after mother. The higher incidence of full-term infants who were small for gestational age for the study population (20%) than for the control population (3%) was of borderline significance. The lower distribution of birth weights in relation to expected birth weights for the full-term study subjects, however, was highly significant.