The aim of this study was to examine the reliability of single-slice phase-contrast angiography (SSPCA) as a rapid technique for the investigation of suspected dural venous sinus occlusion. Images were obtained on 25 normal volunteers to document the accuracy of SSPCA in the demonstration of slow flow states. Normal volunteers were imaged using sagittal and coronal SSPCA (slice thickness 13 cm, matrix 256 x 256, TR 14 ms, TE 7 ms, flip angle 20 degrees, peak velocity encoding rate 30 cm/s). Sinus patency and flow rate were confirmed by measurement of flow in the superior sagittal and transverse sinuses using quantified single-slice phase difference images. Imaging was performed in 50 patients undergoing routine brain scans in order to determine the optimal slice orientation for clinical use. Twenty-one patients with suspected dural venous sinus thrombosis were also investigated with SSPCA and the diagnosis confirmed by one or more alternative imaging techniques. Imaging time was 29 s per acquisition and image quality was good in all cases. Variations in dural sinus patency and flow in normal volunteers were accurately predicted by SSPCA (kappa = 0.92). Use of a single angulated slice (130 mm thick, para-sagittal image angled 30 degrees towards coronal and 30 degrees towards transverse) provided sufficient separation of right- and left-sided venous structures to allow use of a single projection. The presence and extent of sinus occlusions in 14 patients and the absence of thrombosis in 7 were accurately identified by SSPCA. Sensitivity and specificity in this limited study were both 100%. The SSPCA technique takes less than 30 s and provides a reliable and rapid technique for the diagnosis of dural venous sinus thrombosis.