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To determine characteristics, management, complications and outcome of neonates with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) requiring mechanical ventilation (MV). A retrospective review of clinical data of neonates with MAS who were admitted to a public hospital for MV between January 2004 and December 2006. Eighty-eight neonates were ventilated for MAS. Thirty-one percent were postdates and 51% had no electronic fetal monitoring. Postnatal suctioning of meconium was not performed according to protocol in 47% of nonvigorous infants. High-frequency ventilation and surfactant were used in 32 and 14% of cases, respectively. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and pneumothorax occurred in 57 and 24% of cases, respectively. Overall mortality rate was 33%. Neonates suffering from MAS with PPHN had higher mortality rate of 48% compared with 13% in those suffering from MAS without PPHN. Factors associated with mortality were peak inspiratory pressure (P<0.001), pneumothorax (P<0.001) and PPHN (P=0.001). Postdates, inadequate intrapartum monitoring and limited use of adjunct respiratory therapies were common. Severe MAS is associated with adverse outcome.