The surgical treatment of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) located in deep periventricular regions such as the basal ganglia is associated with marked morbidity and mortality. Approaches through critical brain regions afford limited exposure of the lesions, while surgical dissection is sometimes complicated by acute severe brain swelling and/or hemorrhage in the surrounding tissues. In our approach to deep AVMs, our regimen has evolved from direct staged microsurgical excision under routine fentanyl-N2O-relaxant anesthesia (first four patients) to the use of elective high-dose barbiturate anesthesia (subsequent 12 patients). In the first group of four patients, 11 operations were performed. Two patients improved, one of whom returned to normal neurologically. There were three episodes of acute brain swelling and/or hemorrhage. One patient died as a result, and another deteriorated. In the second group of 12 patients, all but two lesions were completely excised. Among the 10 patients in whom the AVM was completely excised, seven improved, six of whom achieved a good to excellent outcome, with two regaining full neurologic function. Three patients worsened (one as the result of acute brain swelling and/or hemorrhage). There was no death in this group. Only one incidence of acute brain swelling and/or hemorrhage occurred in 26 operations. Even though the number of patients is too small in the first group for meaningful statistical comparison, our intraoperative observations and postoperative results suggest that our evolved multimodality regimen, such as staged excision and the use of elective high-dose barbiturates, was likely to have contributed to the improved treatment results of these formidable lesions.