This investigation examined the role of brain perfusion single-photon emission tomography (SPET) in traumatic head injury in 35 patients. The results were compared with those of X-ray computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CT and MRI detected brain contusions in seven patients, subarachnoid haemorrhage in one patient and both in nine patients. In 16 of the 17 subjects (94%), SPET with technetium-99m-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (Tc-HMPAO) revealed CT/MRI-negative abnormalities, such as hypoperfusion in the contre-coup region, frontal hypoperfusion related to personality change and cerebellar hypoperfusion associated with vertigo. In two patients presenting with diffuse axonal injury in the brainstem, hypoperfusion in the frontal cortex on the affected side was observed on SPET. SPET demonstrated hypoperfusion in the adjacent cortex, with no abnormality on either CT or MRI, in six of seven patients exhibiting acute epidural haematoma. SPET failed to provide additional information in two of five patients with acute subdural haematoma and in one of two patients displaying chronic subdural haematoma. In four of nine patients with post-traumatic amnesia, SPET detected hypoperfusion in the temporal lobe, with no abnormality on either CT or MRI. In five of eight patients with vertigo, SPET detected hypoperfusion in the morphologically normal cerebellum. In seven cases involving personality change, frontal hypoperfusion was observed in four; moreover, a markedly non-homogeneous pattern was evident in the remaining three. Overall, SPET afforded additional information in 26 patients (74%). CT possesses an advantage with respect to the detection of haemorrhagic lesions. MRI provides more precise information regarding contusions and axonal injury. Frequently, SPET may be the only examination to reveal perfusion abnormalities which are related to symptoms in the absence of other objective findings, such as post-traumatic amnesia, vertigo or personality change.