We compared clinical outcomes in hydrocephalic patients and observed variation in the rate of flow in ventriculoperitoneal shunts with changes in posture in 231 separate examinations of shunt flow in 148 patients. A small cadmium telluride detector was placed over the shunt reservoir, and clearance of radioisotope injected into the reservoir was recorded as a measure of flow. Flow rate tended to increase during head elevation. Four patterns of radioisotope clearance were seen: type I, no flow; type II, adequate flow with moderate opening pressure; type III, adequate flow with low opening pressure; and type IV, excessive flow. This categorisation reflected clinical shunt function. Our method effectively assesses flow rate with the patient in a variety of postures or during movement, yielding useful information for adjustment of shunt valve pressure.