When intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV) was introduced in newborn infants with hypoxic respiratory failure from hyaline membrane disease (HMD), mortality was high and air leaks problematic. This barotrauma was caused by the high peak inspiratory pressures (PIP) required to oxygenate stiff lungs. The primary determinants of mean airway pressure (and thus oxygenation) on a conventional ventilator are the inspiratory time (IT), PIP, positive end expiratory pressure and gas flow rates. In the 1970s uncontrolled studies on a small number of infants demonstrated a benefit in reducing barotrauma using a long IT and slow rates. This strategy was subsequently widely adopted. Current neonatal ventilators have been designed to minimise lung injury but rates of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) remain high. It is therefore important that the inspiratory time causing least harm is used.