The effect of continuous exposure to 80% oxygen on newborn mice with Ureaplasma urealyticum pneumonia was determined. Mice were inoculated intranasally with either U. urealyticum or sterile broth and then housed in either 80% oxygen or room air (21% oxygen). The mice were sacrificed at either 7 or 14 days after inoculation. Significantly more mice in the U. urealyticum group housed in 80% O2 than in the room air-exposed group were culture positive 14 days after inoculation (P = 0.042), but no difference was found at 7 days. The presence of alveolar macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes and alveolar wall thickness were determined. Overall, the group housed in 80% O2 and inoculated with U. urealyticum had severe pulmonary lesions at both time points, while the lesion severity in the room air-exposed group inoculated with U. urealyticum and the group housed in 80% O2 and inoculated with sterile broth was dependent on the time point. Mortality was significantly higher in the group housed in 80% O2 and inoculated with U. urealyticum than it was in all other groups (P less than 0.001). Our results indicate that hyperoxia causes the persistence of U. urealyticum in the lungs of newborn mice, acutely potentiates the inflammatory response, and turns an otherwise self-limited pneumonia into a lethal disease.