This study reports the collective effect of the positions of the operating table, head, and neck on intracranial pressure (ICP) of 15 adult patients scheduled for elective intracerebral surgery. Patients were anesthetized with propofol, fentanyl, and maintained with a propofol infusion and fentanyl. Intracranial pressure was recorded following 20 minutes of stabilization after induction at different table positions (neutral, 30 degrees head up, 30 degrees head down) with the patient's neck either 1) straight in the axis of the body, 2) flexed, or 3) extended, and in the five following head positions: a) head straight, b) head angled at 45 degrees to the right, c) head angled at 45 degrees to the left, d) head rotated to the right, or e) head rotated the left. For ethical reasons, only patients with ICP < or = 20 mm Hg were included. Intracranial pressure increased every time the head was in a nonneutral position. The most important and statistically significant increases in ICP were recorded when the table was in a 30 degree Trendelenburg position with the head straight or rotated to the right or left, or every time the head was flexed and rotated to the right or left-whatever the position of the table was. These observations suggest that patients with known compromised cerebral compliance would benefit from monitoring ICP during positioning, if the use of a lumbar drainage is planed to improve venous return, cerebral blood volume, ICP, and overall operating conditions.