AIMS: To detect systemic complications of screening for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), paying particular attention to the physical examination. METHODS: Oxygen saturation, pulse rate, and blood pressure were monitored before, during, and after 110 ROP screening examinations. RESULTS: Following topical mydriatics diastolic blood pressure was elevated by a mean of 6 (SD 7.2) mm Hg. Immediately after the examination there was a further rise in both systolic and diastolic pressure of 4.3 (14.5) mm Hg and 3.3 (11.6) mm Hg, respectively. Oxygen saturation and pulse rate remained stable during the control period and administration of eyedrops. Saturation fell by a median of 3% (95% confidence interval plus or minus 1.2%) after the examination while there was rise in pulse rate of 7 (SD 23.1) beats per minute. This change in pulse rate was not observed in infants on concurrent methylxanthine therapy. No infant had clinically significant changes at the end of the study. CONCLUSION: The initial changes in blood pressure may represent side effects of topical mydriatics but the later changes following the physical examination may be an additional response to the stress of ROP screening.