The rectal, epidural, and intraventricular temperatures were continuously monitored in 10 seriously injured and unconscious patients admitted for neurosurgical intensive care. Different attempts were made to lower their brain temperatures. Isolated head cooling, whether with frozen liquid (Hypotherm Gel Kap; Flexoversal, Hilden, Germany) or a cooling helmet, had very limited effect. Nasopharyngeal cooling had no effect. During barbiturate coma, a considerable increase in brain temperature was observed. The administration of paracetamol was the single most effective method by which to lower brain temperature, at times by 2 degrees C and usually with a concomitant decrease in the temperature gradient between the rectum and the brain. However, in order to achieve a lasting reduction of brain temperature to 35 degrees C, we had to use a combination of head cooling and intensive whole-body cooling.