Sickle cell anemia is the best known hereditary blood disorder; there are serious complications associated with the condition. Diagnosis and early intervention reduce morbidity and mortality. These benefits have resulted in the widespread use of newborn screening education programs. In Brazil, the National Neonatal Screening Program established by decree 822/01 included sickle cell disease in the list of diseases tested in the so called "heel prick test". Since then, national studies of the results of this program have been periodically published. To review the literature in order to assess the prevalence of sickle cell trait and sickle cell anemia from data of national neonatal screening studies on hemoglobin S (Hb S). A bibliographic review was carried out using the key words: sickle cell anemia & hemoglobinopathies & neonatal screening & Brazil in the Bireme and SciELO databases. Original Brazilian studies presenting data on prevalence of the sickle cell trait (Hb AS) and sickle cell anemia (Hb SS) based on neonatal screening for Hb S were analysed. Twelve original national studies were identified with prevalences varying from 1.1% to 9.8% for the sickle cell trait and from 0.8 to 60 per 100,000 live births for sickle cell disease in different Brazilian regions. Conclusion: Neonatal screening for Hb S is a very useful method to assess the prevalence of sickle cell trait (Hb AS) and sickle cell anemia (Hb SS) in Brazil. There is a heterogeneous distribution of this disease with the highest prevalence in the northeastern region and the lowest prevalence in the south.