Phototherapy is a conventional method of lowering serum bilirubin in newborn jaundice. We evaluated the short distance in relation to conventional long distance phototherapy between the light-source and the skin surface. Healthy jaundiced neonates undergoing phototherapy were randomized into two groups. The distance between the light-source and the newborn's skin was 20 and 40 centimeters (G20; n=381 and G40; n=393) respectively. Newborns with any history of herbal or Phenobarbital administration were excluded. Bilirubin level was checked 24 hrs after cessation of phototherapy. Both groups were compared regarding the duration of the exposure and its effect on serum bilirubin level and of G6PD deficiency. The respective mean duration of phototherapy in G20 and G40 were 66±22 and 81.6±24.6 hrs (P<0.001). Twenty-four hrs after cessation of phototherapy, 56.1% of G20 newborns had higher levels of rebound bilirubin in contrast with 38.5% of G40 cases. The type of milk had no influence on bilirubin levels. Exposure from 20 cm distance had no side effects on the neonates of various gestational ages and birth weights. This method proved to be safe, rapid and more effective in reducing bilirubin than phototherapy from a longer distance.