Continental #9 non-stop from EWR to Narita, Japan encountered hydraulic problems upon take-off, the airline said.
No injuries were reported and the Boeing 777 -- which had 291 people on board -- was not damaged.
Continental Flight 9 landed without incident at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, about an hour after it left Newark, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport.
Federal Aviation Administration Kathleen Bergen said the plane returned to the airport due to "a hydraulic problem,'' but didn't provide further details.
She said the pilots spent about an hour burning off and dumping fuel before landing, a standard practice that makes the airplane lighter.