Abstract At equivalent post-conceptional ages, prematurely-born infants have higher heart rates and reduced heart rate variability, relative to full-term neonates. Premature birth might exert long-lasting effects on central and peripheral mechanisms that control cardiovascular activity. We assessed development of heart rate and heart rate variability in symptomatic preterm infants up to 6 months of age. Fifty 6.5-h evening recordings of EKG and breathing were obtained from prematurely-born infants (gestational ages: 24–35 weeks). Cardiac R-R intervals were captured with a resolution of ±0.5 msec. One-min epochs were selected from three periods of regular respiration in recordings from premature infants and 72 recordings of full-term infants at comparable post-conceptional ages. Mean heart rate and heart rate variability were determined for each recording. At 40 weeks post-conception, prematurely-born infants with apnea of prematurity showed higher heart rates and reduced heart rate variability than did full-term neonates. These differences between premature and full-term infants persisted throughout the next 6 months in those infants born prior to 30 weeks gestation, and in those infants born at 30–35 weeks who experienced respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) during the neonatal period. The findings suggest that premature delivery, or complications thereof, exerts long-lasting effects on cardiac control.