Posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus following intraventricular haemorrhage is still one of the most serious complications of premature birth. Small premature babies are not suitable for shunt surgery because of high cerebrospinal fluid protein and risk of obstruction. For this reason there is a great need for alternative approaches for treatment of posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus. The objective of this study was to investigate if intraventricular streptokinase treatment reduces the need for ventriculoperitoneal shunt in posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus. A case-control trial was carried out in 12 premature babies with posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Six of them were treated with intraventricular streptokinase and 6 premature babies were in the control group. While 5 babies in the study group needed ventriculoperitoneal shunt, 3 of the control patients needed shunt surgery. There were no rebleeding, ventriculitis or meningitis in either groups. In conclusion on the basis of our results we do not recommend routine use of intraventricular streptokinase in posthaemorrhagic hydrocephalus. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.