Preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit undergo repeated exposure to procedural and ongoing pain. Early and long-term changes in pain processing, stress-response systems and development may result from cumulative early pain exposure. So that appropriate treatment can be given, accurate assessment of pain is vital, but is also complex because these infants' responses may differ from those of full-term infants. A variety of uni- and multidimensional assessment tools are available; however, many have incomplete psychometric testing and may not incorporate developmentally important cues. Near-infrared spectroscopy and/or EEG techniques that measure neonatal pain responses at a cortical level offer new opportunities to validate neonatal pain assessment tools.