Infants at high risk for developmental motor disorders are in general referred to early intervention (EI) services. It is a matter of debate to which extent El may facilitate outcome in various developmental domains. We reviewed the effects of El programmes aiming at promoting rnotor and cognitive development. With respect to motor development the data indicated that El prior to term age probably is most effective when it aims at mimicking the intrauterine environment; after term age general developmental programmes probably are most effective. Some evidence was provided that El prior to term age has a beneficial effect on cognitive development regardless the type of intervention which is applied. After term age only general developmental programmes seemed to have an effect oil cognitive development. The review concludes with preliminary data on the effect a new intervention programme, COPCA, applied between 3 and 6 months corrected age on developmental outcome till 18 months. The results indicated that COPCA was more beneficial for the development of sitting behaviour and cognition than traditional paediatric physiotherapy. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.