Near-infrared spectroscopy has been applied to the study of cerebral oxygenation and hemodynamics in the newborn. Fetal Hb is present in high concentrations in these infants. Because spectral absorption curves in the near-infrared range for fetal Hb are not identical to those for adult Hb, there is a potential for the measurements to be affected. This possibility has not previously been investigated. A quantitative analysis of cerebral oxygenation was undertaken in six newborn infants. The analysis used near-infrared spectroscopy multiplier coefficients derived from the absorption coefficients of both fetal and adult deoxygenated and oxygenated Hb. The results of both analyses were compared. It was concluded that the error in near-infrared spectroscopy analysis of neonatal cerebral oxygenation arising from the use of absorption coefficients derived from adult Hb is inconsequential, even in the presence of high concentrations of fetal Hb. © 1993 International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.