Aim: To determine whether paediatricians that examine, in regular clinical practice, very preterm and very-low-birthweight children at 5 y of age detect neurological impairments and functional motor problems in these children. Methods: We compared a paediatric judgement, a standardized neurological examination (Touwen examination) and a screening of motor development (Denver Developmental Screening Test; DDST) with the Movement ABC in 396 5-y-old very preterm and low-birthweight children. Results: The Movement ABC detected clinically important motor disorders in 20.5% and borderline disturbances in 22.5% of the children. Compared to the Movement ABC, the sensitivity of the paediatric judgement was 0.19, Touwen examination 0.62 and DDST 0.52; the negative predictive values were 0.61, 0.74 and 0.69, respectively. Conclusion: Paediatric assessment of motor development in 5-y-old very preterm and low-birthweight children generally is not sensitive enough to detect functional motor problems. The Movement ABC should be added to the assessment of the motor development of very preterm and low-birthweight children at 5 y of age. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.