The Manitoba Perinatal Screening Program is guided by a committee of medical specialists with skills in the diagnosis and management of disorders of metabolism in the newborn. The program is voluntary and is centralized at Cadham Provincial Laboratory, in Winnipeg. A filter card blood specimen is collected from newborns on discharge from hospital, and a filter card urine sample is collected and mailed to the laboratory by the mother when the infant is about 2 weeks of age. The overall compliance rates for the blood and urine specimens are approximately 100% and 84% respectively. The blood specimen is screened for phenylalanine and other amino acids, thyroxine, galactose, galactose-1-phosphate and biotinidase. The urine specimen is screened for amino acids, including cystine, as well as methylmalonic acid and homocystine. Between 1965 and 1985, 83 cases of metabolic disorders were detected, including 23 cases of primary hypothyroidism, 14 of classic phenylketonuria, 5 of galactosemia variants, 3 of galactosemia, 2 of maple syrup urine disease and 1 of hereditary tyrosinemia. The direct cost per infant screened is $5.50, and the cost:benefit ratio is approximately 7.5:1. Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening is being made available as the necessary supporting clinical facilities become available. On the basis of this experience, the author outlines the components that are important for an effective screening program.