Nine-hundred and four consecutive patients, including 80 neurological patients and 470 with head injuries, were given neuropsychological tests. All 43 test scores were converted to normative Z-scores and averaged, giving an Overall Test Battery Mean (OTBM). A variable measuring effort correlated 0.73 with the OTBM. The OTBM mean score was 1.20 SD lower in those who failed the Word Memory Test (WMT) than in those who passed the WMT. Sub-optimal effort suppressed the OTBM 4.5 times more than did moderate-severe brain injury. When only those making a good effort were included, patients with severe brain injuries and neurological diseases scored significantly lower than groups presumed to have no neurological impairment, but these group differences were not seen when all cases were analysed together. These data illustrate the importance of measuring and controlling for sub-optimal effort in individual neuropsychological evaluations, as well as in empirical research with similar groups of patients.