AIM: Maternal disease can cause prematurity and neonatal complications, notably feeding problems. To determine the relationship between maternal disease and the nature and severity of neonatal feeding problems, we compared feeding profiles, time to demand feeding and length of hospital stay between preterm infants of preeclamptic mothers, mothers with amniotic infection and mothers with other disease causing prematurity. METHODS: The retrospective study used labour ward data collected from 2002 to 2005 in a tertiary university centre to analyse three groups of singletons born at <32 completed gestational weeks to mothers with preeclampsia (n = 61), amniotic infection (n = 55) and non-preeclamptic non-amniotic infection controls (n = 55). The groups were similar in gestational age, birthweight and sex ratio; all infants received enteral feeding according to departmental guidelines. Feeding profiles and enteral/oral nutrition were compared. RESULTS: Feeding problems occurred in 46% of the preeclamptic group, 11% of the amniotic infection group and 13% of controls. Full oral demand feeding was established at 36 0/7 weeks postmenstrual age, 35 3/7 weeks (P = 0.03) and 35 2/7 weeks (P < 0.0001), respectively. Feeding problems were the main cause of delay (7-10 days) in hospital discharge in the preeclamptic group (P = 0.0002). CONCLUSIONS: Feeding problems are greater, and hospital stay longer, in preterm infants of preeclamptic mothers than in other preterm infants.