Second impact syndrome (SIS) is a widely feared complication of traumatic brain injury. Although postulated to occur after repeated concussion, the evidence for such a premise is not compelling. This paper reviews the published evidence for and against the existence of this controversial entity. Rather than SIS being a complication of recurrent concussion, it is far more likely that the clinical condition represents "diffuse cerebral swelling," a well-recognized complication of traumatic brain injury. This condition is more common in children and adolescents, which reflects the known demographics of so-called "second impact syndrome." We propose that clinicians abandon the misleading term second impact syndrome and refer to the syndrome as diffuse cerebral swelling.