The postural function in 52 patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and in 19 patients with subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy (SAE) was analysed bedside and in 17 of the NPH, 10 of the SAE and 23 healthy individuals (HI) also examined with a force platform. At the bedside examination, no differences in postural functions between NPH and SAE patients were found. The NPH patients improved more in the postural than in motor functions after shunt surgery. The NPH patients had a larger sway area and a higher backward directed velocity of centre of pressure than HI. The direction of the inclination in the sagittal plane was neutral or forward in the NPH and the SAE patients while it was backward in HI. The postural function was better in positions with open eyes in all 3 groups, but significantly less in the NPH patients, indicating a misinterpretation of afferent visual stimuli in the brainstem postural centre.