The pH, partial pressure of oxygen (pO(2)), partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)), concentration of bicarbonate (HCO(3)(-)), base excess and oxygen saturation (SO(2)) were measured in venous and arterial blood from 57 newborn calves from 55 dams. Blood samples were collected immediately after birth and 30 minutes, four, 12 and 24 hours later from a jugular vein and a caudal auricular artery. The mean (sd) pO(2) and SO(2) of arterial blood increased from 45.31 (16.02) mmHg and 64.16 (20.82) per cent at birth to a maximum of 71.89 (8.32) mmHg and 92.81 (2.32) per cent 12 hours after birth, respectively. During the same period, the arterial pCO(2) decreased from 57.31 (4.98) mmHg to 43.74 (4.75) mmHg. The correlation coefficients for arterial and venous blood were r=0.86 for pH, r=0.85 for base excess and r=0.76 for HCO(3)(-). The calves with a venous blood pH of less than 7.2 immediately after birth had significantly lower base excess and HCO(3)(-) concentrations for 30 minutes after birth than the calves with a venous blood pH of 7.2 or higher. In contrast, the arterial pO(2) was higher in the calves with a blood pH of less than 7.2 than in those with a higher pH for 30 minutes after birth.