Cerebral palsy will affect nearly 10% of the 60,000 very low-birth-weight infants born in the United States in the next year, and an even greater percentage will display some form of permanent neurological impairment resulting from injury to the preterm brain. The 2008 Neurobiology of Disease in Children Symposium, held in conjunction with the 37th annual meeting of the Child Neurology Society, aimed to define current knowledge and to develop specific aims for future clinical, translational, and fundamental science. A complex interplay of both destructive and developmental forces is responsible for injury to the preterm brain. Advances in imaging and histology have implicated a variety of cell types, though preoligodendrocyte injury remains the focus. Research into different mechanisms of injury is facilitating new neuroprotective and rehabilitative interventions. A cooperative effort is necessary to translate basic research findings into clinically effective therapies and better care for these children.