Bioelectrical impedance vector analysis (BIVA) is a new method that is used for the routine monitoring of the variation in body fluids and nutritional status with assumptions regarding body composition values. The aim of the present study was to determine bivariate tolerance intervals of the whole-body impedance vector and to describe phase angle (PA) values for healthy term newborns aged 7–28 d. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted on healthy term neonates born at a low-risk public maternity. General and anthropometric neonatal data and bioelectrical impedance data (800 μA–50 kHz) were obtained. Bivariate vector analysis was conducted with the resistance–reactance (RXc) graph method. The BIVA software was used to construct the graphs. The study was conducted on 109 neonates (52·3 % females) who were born at term, adequate for gestational age, exclusively breast-fed and aged 13 (sd 3·6) d. We constructed one standard, reference, RXc-score graph and RXc-tolerance ellipses (50, 75 and 95 %) that can be used with any analyser. Mean PA was 3·14 (sd 0·43)° (3·12 (sd 0·39)° for males and 3·17 (sd 0·48)° for females). Considering the overlapping of ellipses of males and females with the general distribution, a graph for newborns aged 7–28 d with the same reference tolerance ellipse was defined for boys and girls. The results differ from those reported in the literature probably, in part, due to the ethnic differences in body composition. BIVA and PA permit an assessment without the need to know body weight and the prediction error of conventional impedance formulas.