We report on a newborn boy, who was delivered at 26 weeks' gestation by emergency caesarean section because of a prolapsed cord and breech presentation. Grade IV hyaline membrane disease subsequently developed, for which a surfactant was given. On day 8, there were frequent apnoeic attacks, and on day 30, marked irritability developed, as did intermittent stiffening of all four limbs. The anterior fontanelle was bulging and tense, and the cerebrospinal fluid was found to be turbid. Gram staining of the cerebrospinal fluid and blood revealed Gram-positive bacilli. Subsequent culturing yielded Bacillus cereus, which was sensitive to amikacin and vancomycin. Severe cerebral oedema developed, however, and computed tomography of the brain showed bright cortical sulci, suggestive of meningitis. The baby died on day 37, and post-mortem histological examination of the brain showed extensive liquefactive necrosis with abundant neutrophilic infiltration. Since infection with Bacillus cereus is rapidly fatal, early recognition of infection by this organism is important.