Subcapsular haematoma of the liver rarely occurs in neonates and the diagnosis is often missed or delayed. It is a catastrophic condition that can be caused by maternal, placentar or fetal factors. A high index of suspicion is essential for early identification and stabilisation of babies with such a pathology. In a newborn with hypovolemic shock and abdominal distension, haemoperitoneum should be suspected and, along with exclusion of other aetiologies, supportive therapy should be instituted. The hepatic subcapsular haematoma has a non-specific presentation, and should be considered in very low birth weight infants with hypovolemic shock. Abdominal ultrasonography is the investigation of choice. It can delineate the lesion well, differentiate it from neoplasms, rule out rupture and aid in serial follow-up. We report a premature newborn who had this uncommon condition in the early neonatal period and survived without sequelae.