ABSTRACT. Gastric emptying of newborn infants is a procedure performed to prevent aspiration of gastric contents. The present investigation was conducted to study the effects of gastric suction on circulatory and behavioural parameters in 21 healthy newborn children (11 cases, 10 controls). A small elevation in mean arterial blood pressure was observed during gastric suction. The incidence of retching was also increased. In all children spontaneous sucking and rooting movements, as well as state of sleep and wakefulness were recorded. In the control group spontaneous sucking and rooting movements started to occur 15 min after birth and reached a maximum at 45 and 60 min, respectively. The first hand to mouth movement was observed after a mean of 34 min and the infants found the nipple and started to suckle at about 55 min. This sequence of prefeeding behaviour was disrupted in children who had undergone gastric suction. The physiological side-effects induced by gastric suction are minor, but it seemed to be unpleasant for the child and no clear advantages are gained by the procedure.