PURPOSE: Early surfactant therapy with either gentle ventilation, high-frequency ventilation or aggressive weaning of mechanical ventilation are principles for the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome(RDS). We studied to determine the accessibility of noninvasive nasal continuous positive airway pressure(CPAP) rather than mechanical ventilation by invasive intubation after early surfactant therapy. METHODS: The study group consisted of 14 infants who were born and diagnosed with moderate respiratory distress syndrome and received early surfactant therapy with nasal CPAP of PEEP 5-6 cm H2O within two hours after birth in the Fatima neonatal intensive care unit for two years from January 1999 to August 2001. The control group consisted of 15 infants who were diagnosed with the disease and could be weaned from mechanical ventilator within five days after birth during the same period. RESULTS: The characteristics, the severity of clinical symptoms and laboratory findings in the two groups at birth showed no significant difference. Neither did the interim analysis of laboratory data in two groups. Of 14 infants in the study group who received nasal CPAP after early surfactant therapy, only two infants showed weaning failure with this therapy. In the response cases, duration of CPAP was five days and mean airway pressure was 5.4+/-0.5 cm H2O. Two had the complication of CPAP with abdominal distension. Final complications and outcomes in the two groups showed no signifcant difference(p>0.05). CONCLUSION: The clinical courses in the two groups showed no significant difference. Therefore, we suggest that early surfactant therapy with noninvasive nasal CPAP is a simple and safe method rather than aggressive weaning after invasive mechanical ventilation in moderate respiratory distress syndrome.