Background Preterm birth (PTB) and particularly late preterm PTB has become a research focus for obstetricians, perinatologists, neonatologists, pediatricians and policy makers alike. Translational models are useful tools to expedite and guide clinical but presently no model exists that contextualizes the late PTB scenario. Herein we aimed to develop a rabbit model that echo's the clinical neurocognitive phenotypes of early and late PTB. Methods Time mated rabbit does underwent caesarean delivery at a postconceptional age (PCA) of either 28 (n = 6), 29 (n = 5), 30 (n = 4) or 31 (n = 4) days, term = 31 d. Newborn rabbits were mixed and randomly allocated to be raised by cross fostering and underwent short term neurobehavioral testing on corrected post-natal day 1. Open field (OFT), spontaneous alteration (TMT) and novel object recognition (NORT) tests were subsequently performed at 4 and 8 weeks of age. Results PTB was associated with a significant gradient of short-term mortality and morbidity inversely related to the PCA. On postnatal day 1 PTB was associated with a significant sensory deficit in all groups but a clear motor insult was only noted in the PCA 29d and PCA 28d groups. Furthermore, PCA 29d and PCA 28d rabbits had a persistent neurobehavioral deficit with less exploration and hyperanxious state in the OFT, less alternation in TMT and lower discriminatory index in the NORT. While PCA 30d rabbits had some anxiety behavior and lower spontaneous alteration at 4 weeks, however at 8 weeks only mild anxiety driven behavior was observed in some of these rabbits. Conclusions In this rabbit model, delivery at PCA 29d and PCA 28d mimics the clinical phenotype of early PTB while delivery at PCA 30d resembles that of late PTB. This could serve as a model to investigate perinatal insults during the early and late preterm period.