: The very young preterm neonate has multiple immune deficiencies which may increase his or her vulnerability to infection. Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) plays an important role in the protection of epithelial surfaces exposed to the external environment; nevertheless controversy exists with regards to the ontogeny of SIgA in newborns and especially the preterm neonate. The objective was to investigate if SIgA could be detected in the saliva of very/extremely low birthweight neonates (V/ELBW). A total of 707 samples which were collected twice daily (morning and afternoon) for three consecutive days were obtained from sixty-eight preterm neonates (mean gestational age 28 weeks; conceptional age ranged from 25-35 weeks). A repeated measures design was used. Total concentration of SIgA was determined from unstimulated saliva by an Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay technique. Results indicated that SIgA was detectable in the early postnatal period in the saliva of both ventilated preterms who were receiving intravenous total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and non-ventilated preterms. A 3-way repeated measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) showed no significant effect from 'before' and 'after' samples during a period of spontaneous activity, time and day of sampling. A significant effect of mode of nutrition was found; neonates who were receiving expressed breast milk had significantly higher concentrations of SIgA than those infants receiving TPN (df=3, F=14.27, p<0.0001). These results have implications for the care of the preterm neonate in intensive care.