Aim: To describe cardiac surgery, survival and outcomes for low-birthweight (< or = 2500 g) infants undergoing surgery for congenital heart disease.Methods: Using data from a prospectively collected population-based database of admissions to neonatal intensive care units in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, we identified all low-birthweight infants undergoing cardiac surgery between 1992 and 2001. Infants with only a persistent ductus arteriosus were excluded. Two-year cardiac and neurodevelopmental outcome data were sought from hospital medical records.Results: A total of 121 low-birthweight infants underwent cardiac surgery, of whom 34% had a congenital syndrome or non-cardiac birth defect. Most (81%) underwent a palliative surgical procedure in the neonatal period. There were 19 early (15.7%) and 19 late deaths giving a 2-year mortality of 31%. Factors associated with mortality included birthweight below 1500 g (P = 0.006), low weight at surgery (P = 0.028) and Apgar score at 1 min (P = 0.019). No single factor predicted 30-day mortality. By 2 years of age, 27 (33% of survivors) were known to have neurodevelopmental delay. Although 22 children are known to be developing normally, the neurodevelopmental status of 34 children was not known.Conclusions: These surgical data were comparable to previous single-institution studies. This group had a high risk of disability due to prematurity, low birthweight and associated conditions. There is a need to prospectively assess and manage neurodevelopmental outcomes in this group.